Violence and chaos in the Middle East have left many around the world hopeless and feeling helpless. As followers of Jesus, we refuse to be sidetracked by the temptation to despair.
Prayers for Peace (P4P) provides a way for Christians of diverse political and theological backgrounds to stand up for peace and unite in supplication to God with a special focus on prayers for the Holy Land. Prayers for Peace provides Jesus’ followers with the common language of prayer around which to mobilize their energy and passion for the land that gave birth to our faith. To combat the prevailing images of discord, Prayers for Peace will highlightpeace-building organizations that we may pray for them as they live out the reconciliation offered in the Prophets and Jesus’ message of peace.
Prayers for Peace is thankful for the partnership of our board member organization Evangelicals for Social Action in writing and sharing these prayers.
Our classroom is hot. It’s hard to focus. We’ve begun to notice the increasing temperatures outside that hint at the impending heat of summer. Our professor, Ustaadha Latifa, senses our drifting thoughts and makes her way across the whitewashed room and to the window. Her black abaya sways with each step, creating the illusion of floating, which, when paired with her petite frame, is easy to believe. She unlocks the window and allows fresh air into the room. As the breeze flows in, it brings with it the distant sound of the call for prayer, a welcome melody that has been too far from my hearing for too long. I close my eyes for a brief moment and simply listen. I feel the air involuntarily leave my lungs in a satisfied exhale, the kind that only happens in moments of deep contentment. This moment, hearing the call for prayer for the first time since I moved to Ibri, reminds me of our group’s week of prayer back in Muscat…
The sound of devoted believers raises me to consciousness. I don’t have to open my eyes to know it’s 5:30 am and dark outside. I am informed of these facts simply by listening to both my internal clock and the calls for prayer echoing throughout the city. What would it be like to be one of the devoted who wake up every day before 5:30 and make their way to the mosque; those who turn towards Mecca again at mid-morning, noon, mid-day, and sunset? Read more
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
In my time here, I have met many incredible individuals who face the impossible realities of occupation. Providing for their communities, families, and yearning for freedom, I am inspired by the power of the individual in the midst of this intractable conflict.
In this session, Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, CMEP’s executive director, speaks with His Eminence Archobishop Angaelos. On 18 November 2017, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos was enthroned as the first Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London. He specializes in advocacy work and youth ministry and travels around the world to speak at youth conventions. He was conferred the honor of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty The Queen for ‘Services to International Religious Freedom.’
God of mercy and compassion, of grace and reconciliation, pour your power upon all your children in the Middle East: Jews, Muslims and Christians, Palestinians and Israelis. Let hatred be turned into love, fear to trust, despair to hope, oppression to freedom, occupation to liberation, that violent encounters may be replaced by loving embraces, and peace and justice could be experienced by all. – Reverend Said
Father Elias Khoury is a Palestinian Citizen of Israel from the Northern Israeli city of Haifa, where he was raised in the Greek Orthodox Christian community. He graduated from the National School for Practical Engineers from Technion Israel Institute of Technology and then started his engineering career. Fr. Khoury was ordained to the priesthood in 2002 and served until 2011 as an assistant priest in St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Acre, Israel. From 2006 to 2011 he served as secretary and member of the Greek Orthodox Ecclesiastical Tribunal that handles family law matters for the Greek Orthodox community in the Holy Land. He earned a Bachelor of Law degree, LBA, from Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono, Israel, and a Masters degree in Theological Studies, at the Hellenic College – Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston, Massachusetts. Since 2014 he has served as the parish priest at St. Patrick Greek Orthodox Church in Jadeidi Village near Acre. He also holds a position as a culture and religion teacher at Bairuni High School in the village. In his pastoral role, he focuses on interfaith engagement with Muslim religious leaders in Jadeidi, as well as improving community access to theological education through the establishment of an Orthodox church library. He is married with three children.
In the spirit of Father Khoury’s interfaith work and engagement, this week’s prayer comes from Rabbi Sheila Weinberg:
Two peoples, one land, Three faiths, one root, One earth, one mother, One sky, one beginning, one future, one destiny, One broken heart, One God. We pray to You: Grant us a vision of unity. May we see the many in the one and the one in the many. May you, Life of All the Worlds, Source of All Amazing Differences help us to see clearly. Guide us gently and firmly toward each other, toward peace.
V. Rev. Fr. Hrant Tahanian was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. His great-grandparents were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. After graduating from Soorp Hagop Armenian School in Montreal, he continued his studies in Pure & Applied Sciences at Collège Montmorency, in Laval. He then travelled to the Armenian Orthodox Seminary in Lebanon (the only such institution that survived the total destruction of Western-Armenia, and relocated to Lebanon), where he finished his B.A. in Armenological & Theological Studies. After being ordained a priest, according to the 17 centuries old tradition of the Armenian Church, he served in the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Lebanon, as director of the Cilicia Museum. In 2012, he was appointed to be the pastor of St. Gregory Armenian Church in Vancouver, where he served the community for 5 years, whilst working on a M.A. in Theology at the Vancouver School of Theology (UBC). In 2017, he was appointed to be the Ecumenical and Inter-religious Officer the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Lebanon, where he now lives.
God of all creation, bring justice and peace to our world. Teach us to be peacemakers. Guide us in our pursuit of justice and the common good. Inspire us to welcome all, forgive all, and love all. Direct us as we walk in the shadow of Jesus: the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Inspire us to perceive the world through your eyes, that we might find hope and joy each day, supportive of each other, for the sake of your Kingdom. Amen.
Rev. Najla Kassab is President of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and Director of the Christian Education Department for the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL). She received her Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1990. In 1993 Rev. Kassab received the first preaching license offered to a woman by NESSL. In March 2017, she became the second woman to be ordained as a minister in NESSL. She lives with her husband, Joseph Kassab, and three children in Beirut, and her work takes her frequently to Syria.
Creator God, who knows our fears and trepidations, guide us with your presence as we seek to be companions to our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Give the people faith that better days lie ahead, and inspire them to unity in the face of injustice and oppression. Let us pray that soon the day will come when nations will reach out to each other rather than rise up against each other.We ask that you preserve the unity of families, the innocence of children, and the courage of parents. We ask that God accompany the people of the whole region as they seek a period in which kingdoms and republics alike base relationships on mutuality rather than fear, and on the future rather than the past. Amen.
In this session, Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, CMEP’s executive director, speaks with Fr. Ramzi Sidawi OFM. He was born in Jerusalem in 1972. At the conclusion of his maturity studies he entered the Order of Friars Minor where he took his first vows in the year 1996 and the Solemn ones in the year 2000. After completing his formation and studies in Theology, he received Priestly Ordination in 2002, he spent a short period of service in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Transferred to Rome to complete his studies in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical University Antonianum, he graduated in 2006 and defended the doctoral thesis in 2010. While preparing to defend the thesis, he was appointed parish priest of the Parish of Saint Anthony of Padua in Jaffa – Tel Aviv, Israel. Along with this assignment, he also began teaching Dogmatic Theology in the Studium Theologicum Jerosolymitanum in Jerusalem. From 2013 to 2016 he was director of the Terra Santa Boys School in Jerusalem and from 2016 he is the General Administrator of the Custody of the Holy Land.
God, Grant us grace in abundance. The land of our Lord’s life and
ministry is filled with violence, fear, and want. As followers of Jesus
Christ, we wish to come together for good and for your glory. Grant us
mercy as we share our pains, fears, and aspirations, that we may listen
and better understand our brothers and sisters in Christ, while we
pursue peace, justice, and restoration. May the walls that divide be
turned, becoming a table by which we seek communion with one another,
and with you. In this spirit of unity, we pray together the prayer of
humble access: We do not presume to come to this thy table, O merciful
Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your abundant mercy. We
are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table. But
you are the same Lord whose eternal nature is to have mercy. Grant us
therefore, gracious Lord, that we may eat the flesh of thy dear Son
Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may continually dwell in
him, and he in us. Amen.
In this session, recorded on April 14, Bishop Elect Hosam Naoum joins Rev. Dr. Cannon. On January 30th, the previous dean of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem, Rev. Hosam Naoum, was elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East. As Coadjutor, Pastor Hosam will now be introduced to all the ministries of a bishop for about a year and a half, and will subsequently take over this office from the current incumbent, Archbishop Suheil Dawani. Hosam Naoum has been dean of Jerusalem Cathedral since 2012. Previously, he had studied theology in South Africa and the United States, and had long served as parish pastor in Nablus and Zababdeh (West Bank) and Jerusalem. He is particularly concerned about ecumenism and the inter-religious relations of his church. He has always maintained good relations with the German-speaking Protestant community in Jerusalem.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! (Mark 16:6)
He is Risen!
The Good News of the Gospel of Christ is the liberation of the soul one experiences through the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the cross. This is what Christians around the world celebrate on Easter Sunday.
I was deeply moved this past week when I had the opportunity to host a Pilgrimage to Peace webinar about freedom and oppression with two guests from our partner organization Combatants for Peace. Both Sulaiman (Palestinian) and Tuly (Israeli) had experience serving as militants fighting on behalf of their people. Their stories tell of how they sought physical liberation through force… Suli as a Palestinian resistance fighter, and Tuly as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Israeli military. Read more
I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long. He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones; he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago. He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked.
Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24
The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Holy Saturday is the day we wait. On this side of the resurrection, we know what we are waiting for. The disciples and followers of Jesus did not. It was just a day after the death of a person they dearly loved and the death of hope for the future. Read more