Prayers4Peace: Easter Sunday of Lent 2024

The Path of Building Just Peace, Easter Sunday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Susan Hayward

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

The path of building just peace, much like the path of faith, is not for the faint of heart. We do not choose to trod it because it’s an eternal conga line of delights. More often than not, our glimpses of heaven along the peacebuilding path are fleeting in the face of daunting, heavy assaults on human dignity wrought by the world’s systems, human cruelty, or indifference. But we walk this path because we know there is no other way to be that can bring true peace. We walk it because Jesus, Love embodied, did so himself, straight into Jerusalem – the beating heart of our world. And in so doing, he showed us that while our journey on this path will not keep us from heartbreak, its ultimate end is always, always joy – the impossibly beautiful joy that comes from seeing Love triumph over everything. Have faith, follow Jesus, and keep walking, my beloved. You do not do so alone. 

About the author: Rev. Susie Hayward recently took up a new call as the Justice Minister at Mayflower UCC in Minneapolis. She is also the Senior Advisor on Religion and Public Policy at Harvard Divinity School. Rev. Hayward is the chair of CMEP’s Leadership Council and has two decades of experience in peacebuilding, activism, foreign policymaking, and human rights.

Reflection, Written by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

As Susie described in her Easter devotion “the path to faith is not for the faint of heart” – that has never been more true in our work and ministry at Churches for Middle East Peace than during this Easter season. 

A few weeks ago, in a meeting with a group of Palestinian Christian leaders, one of the pastors from Jerusalem said, “American Christians understand Easter so much differently than we do here in Palestine. You think Easter is a celebration full of parties, fireworks, and Easter brunch. For us, Easter is a reminder that hope will one day come – even if we do not yet see it. Resurrection has happened and the work is complete, and Easter for us is celebrating that truth.” 

This Easter morning – knowing that the stone at the entrance to the tomb has been rolled away, we are reminded, “He is Risen!” And we remember in the midst of the worldly realities that Susie described, the systems of human cruelty and indifference that death and destruction do not rob us of joy. The most profound personal lesson I have learned this Lent – which Susie so beautifully describes – has been the triumph of joy in the midst of suffering, exemplified in the story of Jesus – the conquering power of love. 

Be moved to joy in the videos of Palestinians in the most devastating of circumstances in Gaza dancing Dabkeh, even when surrounded by rubble. Be moved to joy when you see communities gather in solidarity calling for a ceasefire on social media #GCPilgrimages for Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimages – be it in the mile-long one thousand plus people who walked in Cape Town, South Africa; or the one lone person in Antarctica on a treadmill because of the bitter cold; or the solo man in the heat of the Australian bush who recorded his personal pilgrimage; and in the cities across the United States; and the other countries and continents from Asia to Europe including all seven continents, 19 countries and almost 200 cities around the world. Joy! As we lament, weep, and know that our work has only yet begun – and each and every moment our advocacy in working to end the devastation in Gaza and seeking to bring peace and an end to violence is so incredibly critical. 

Easter Prayer: Creator God in heaven – go before us and make straight our path. We celebrate in Easter solidarity alongside Palestinian Christians and with Christians around the world – the good news that love conquers death, and peace ultimate will prevail. We rest in the hope that sorrow and brokenness is not the end of the story. Give us comfort and reassurance as we continue to walk and take steps forward, seeking to be faithful in solidarity with one another and in unity with you. Give us strength, Lord God. Give us courage, oh Savior. Give us joy. Thy kingdom come quickly. Amen.  

About the author: Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon is the executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace and an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). Cannon holds an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary, an MBA from North Park University’s School of Business and Nonprofit Management, and an MA in bioethics from Trinity International University. She received her first doctorate in American History with a minor in Middle Eastern studies at the University of California (Davis) focusing on the history of the American Protestant church in Israel and Palestine and her second doctorate in Ministry in Spiritual Formation from Northern Theological Seminary. She is the author of several books including the award-winning Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World and editor of A Land Full of God: Christian Perspectives on the Holy Land. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Christianity Today, Leadership Magazine, The Christian Post, Jerusalem Post, EU Parliament Magazine, Huffington Post, and other international media outlets.

Please note any views or opinions contained in this devotional series are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

One Comment On “Prayers4Peace: Easter Sunday of Lent 2024”

  1. I pray


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