Embodying God’s Peace this Advent
By Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, CMEP Executive Director
Recent history includes much sadness, devastation, and loss for many across the Middle East. In June of 2023, the Executive Director of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, wrote:
“I woke up almost every morning this past week and heard distressing news from Palestine and Israel. It is hard not to be discouraged… But in the midst of such news – we must remind ourselves that even when we cannot immediately see tangible results, our work continues to provide critical education, advocacy, and engagement in response to violence and oppression. We are motivated by our faith not to give up hope but to remain steadfast and diligent. I continue to say… ‘Despair is the luxury of the privileged.’ If our friends, colleagues, and partners in the Middle East continue to remain in situations of conflict and as they continue to pursue peaceful responses to human rights violations and violence – who are we to give up hope?”*
We created this Advent devotional in this same spirit of steadfastness and expectation. We wrote these words in the hope that you will be able to reflect on God’s promise, even amidst the disappointment that may have come with the past year. We hope through a more meditative and reflective Advent season, you feel welcomed into a space of waiting for the coming of the Lord. We invite you not to throw off feelings of grief or sorrow that may come alongside this expectant time but to sit in these feelings, eager for the “peace which surpasses all understanding” and holding fast to the promises of the Everlasting God.
This resource was written by people holistically working towards peace and justice in the Middle East: CMEP staff, Church Partners in the US, Christian leaders serving as Regional Coordinators throughout the country, and many others. As we at CMEP have walked through this year, we did not walk alone. Highlighted in these pages are some of the people who advocate for peace and justice, expectant of what is to come. You, as you read this now, are a part of this same work.
So, we ask you to join us in a time of scripture, reflection, and prayerful meditation this Advent season, using this book as a guide. We invite you to reflect on why we wait for justice and how God’s everlasting light can cast out darkness and make plain the path to justice.
*Excerpt from the June 23, 2023, Pastoral Letter from Executive Director Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
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 formerly served as the senior director of Advocacy and Outreach for World Vision U.S. on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC; as consultant to the Middle East for child advocacy issues for Compassion International in Jerusalem; as the executive pastor of Hillside Covenant Church located in Walnut Creek, California; and as director of development and transformation for extension ministries at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois.
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 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. Her work has been highlighted in CNN, Chicago Tribune, Christianity Today, Leadership Magazine, The Christian Post, Jerusalem Post, EU Parliament Magazine, Huffington Post and other international media outlets.