I can relate to the prophet Elijah, when he stood in the wilderness waiting for God. The story, found in 1 Kings 19:1-18, tells of the unusual way that God met him. Having just helped Elijah defeat Queen Jezebel’s spiritual team in a “made for TV showdown”, we would expect God to communicate in another dramatic way.
God sent powerful winds, a ground trembling earthquake, and a roaring fire that all got Elijah’s attention. But He was not in any of these. It was actually in a final, gentle whisper that the Lord spoke.
My first trip to the Holy Land was a little like this. I was on the typical pilgrimage with my church. I was so excited to “walk in the footsteps of Jesus” and actually see all the places I had always read about in the Bible. And like Elijah, I too, was praying that God would reveal Himself to me. Read more
What does it mean to work for peace and justice? It means to persist in hope, in faith and steadfast in our prayers and actions. Over the last three and a half decades, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) has served as a spiritual home for those embracing the call for justice in the Middle East and has mobilized thousands of individuals to embrace a more holistic understanding of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and call for an end to violence in the Middle East. None of this would have been possible without the inspiring vision and commitment of CMEP’s Founding Director, Corinne Whitlatch.
Before her time with CMEP, Corrine started her journey at American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) working for the Middle East Peace education program in 1978 where she toured the states with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists to talk about coexistence and elevating the voices of both peoples. After her time with AFSC ended six years later, Corrine decided to move to Washington D.C and continue working on the Middle East. After six months, she found a job with the American-Israel Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. During this time, the National Council of Churches had organized members to compose a Middle East group and after a year, hired Corrine part-time as the Middle East Task Force Coordinator. After a year with both organizations, CMEP received funding to hire her full time as the Founding Director. The goal was to form a coalition of church bodies who would jointly come together to form a common advocacy message around the region and to do so, she worked diligently to expand the coalition to incorporate more Christian denominations for a more comprehensive and formalized working group. With a background in Political Science and History, Corinne’s leadership shaped the foundations of the organization that is known today. Read more
Ten years ago, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish lost three daughters, Bessan, Mayar, and Aya, and one niece, Noor, to an Israeli tank shelling of his home in Gaza. It happened just before he was scheduled to do a phone interview on an Israeli TV station, which then broadcasted his grief and cry for help in the wake of horrific violence. Read more
by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. (Matthew 28:6)
Easter Sunday is all about liberation. Liberation from death and the limitations of this world. Christ’s resurrection on the cross reflects the greatest triumph of Christian belief and tradition; death has not prevailed, for life has overcome. He has risen!
History is wrought with stories of contemporary struggles for liberation around the globe—from the black toil for freedom and autonomy in the United States; to Jewish realities of genocide and grotesque global anti-Semitism; to the present-day struggles between Palestinians seeking to“shake off” the physical bonds of occupation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza; and many other examples of people groups seeking liberation and freedom. Read more
A Holy Saturday Devotional by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Holy Saturday remains my favorite holiday in Jerusalem. After the evening of Good Friday and the darkness of Christ’s crucifixion, Christians around the world celebrate in the coming of Easter Sunday that darkness is not the end of the story. For light will overcome the darkness.
This year Western Christians (Catholics, Anglicans, and Protestants) celebrate Easter one week apart from our Eastern Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters. But the spirit of which we celebrate is the light of Christ prevailing over the darkness of the world. This celebration is symbolized most profoundly in the ritual of Holy Fire and Holy Saturday before Easter Sunday in the sacred city of Jerusalem. Read more
A Good Friday Devotion by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Few would argue the realities in the Middle East are riddled with darkness. Consider the minority and Christian communities in Iraq continuing to suffer from poverty and displacement after the violence of Daesh (ISIS) and other militant groups destroyed their homes and killed so many of their loved ones. The people of Yemen continue to suffer under a crushing civil war that has manifested itself in the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. The occupation of the Palestinian people continues beyond fifty years of military control of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. Refugees from Syria reside in makeshift camps in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, as they consider what it might look like to ever rebuild their lives again and have hope for a future for their children and their children’s children. The stories of pain and suffering throughout the Arab world could go on and on. There are many places where the darkness seems to prevail. Read more
by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
All over the world this evening, churches throughout the east and the west will host services to celebrate Maundy Thursday. The Thursday of Holy Week reminds believers of the Last Supper Jesus had with the disciples, and more specifically, his teaching them about the power of what it means to be a servant.
Jesus knew what was to come. He had loved the disciples and the world while he lived amongst them and John 13:1 tells us he “loved them to the end.” Christ’s ultimate act of love would follow a few short days after the meal, but his lessons for those who followed him were not yet complete. Read more
It is interesting how Palm Sunday is often described as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. And yet, what was triumphant about this humble Jewish man riding down the Mount of Olives, across the Valley of Kidron, and into the Old City of Jerusalem? The people cried out adulations to him, but the praise of humankind was temporary and fleeting. For in the days hence, that very same crowd would turn their backs on Christ and instead release the convicted prisoner Barabas into freedom. How could Jesus ever be reconciled to his people after such betrayal?
Today the walk down the Mount of Olives is a glimpse of the multi-faceted diversity of cultures and Abrahamic faith traditions that call Jerusalem holy. It is also a microcosm of the contestations about land, historic ties to the Old City of Jerusalem, and the current political realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Read more
By Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Over the past several weeks, the news coming from Palestine and Israel continues to be more than discouraging. The United States removal of the world occupation from the United States Human Rights Report of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) just seemed to be the beginning. Then on March 21, the Trump Administration recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights once again demonstrating the administration’s recklessly one-sided approach to Middle East foreign policy. On March 25, a rocket fired from Gaza landed in Israel injuring seven people; Israel attacked Gaza with military strikes. As if that was not enough, the United Nations reminds us that in the year since the beginning of the Great March of Return (March 30, 2018), 195 Palestinians, including 41 children, were killed by Israeli forces during demonstrations, including weekly protests near the perimeter fence, protests against the naval blockade, and other activities. Over the course of the past year, 28,939 Palestinians were injured as a part of the Gaza protests.
In the midst of escalating violence and such horrific tragedies, what does it mean to have Persistent Hope? Read more
By Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Miriam Shaar, a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, witnessed the discouragement in her community first hand. Living in Bourj el Barajneh, a refugee camp of more than fifty thousand Palestinian refugees outside of Beirut, Shaar knew the harsh realities of not having the financial means to provide for the basic necessities of life. The more than two million refugees in Lebanon experience significant challenges in their daily life. Refugees, particularly women, cannot find work. They often feel like they do not have hope for a future. Read more