Prayers4Peace: Third Sunday of Lent 2024

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12: 1-2 (ESV)

Costly Love and Hard Places, Third Sunday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Rich Leatherberry

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

“Let us run with perseverance the race set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1

We live in a culture of quick fixes, instant rewards, and short-term commitments. The temptation is to avoid the hard things, quit, move on, or find something different or someone new. Oliver Wendel Holmes, one of the most influential judges in American history, once wrote: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” More than building a resume of all the great things we have done or will do, it’s our character that matters most.  

Perseverance is the character quality that never gives up. Perseverance doesn’t take the easy way out. It stays the course and does the right thing, even when the right thing is the hard thing. Obstacles will not stop it. Discouragement will not derail it. Setbacks will not deter it. Perseverance is the unrelenting commitment to keep going. The author of the Hebrews calls it “hupomone”– Hoop-a-monae. Say that a couple of times. It’s a fun word. Hoop-a-monae!

Most of the time, we don’t get to choose what happens in the world around us. But we do get to choose our response. Perseverance looks like forgiveness instead of holding a grudge, seeking peace rather than remaining enemies, and showing mercy instead of taking revenge.   

My first trip to the West Bank was with a delegation of pastors led by the Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon. We met with Jews and Palestinians, Muslims and Christians. We listened to their stories, laughed and cried with them, and came to a new understanding of the complexities of their lives: the checkpoints, the separation wall, the need for security, and the need for freedom. Then, we met Charlie. Charlie is part of a very small but resilient community. Charlie is a Palestinian Christian. Charlie described the difficulty of his life as a Palestinian, detailing the trauma of injustice and violence he and his community endure. Then he said this: “We carry a heavy cross. We don’t want to stay here. But we must stay here. It is our call.  We stay and witness to the love and forgiveness of Jesus.” Hupomone!

Lent points us to Jesus, who persevered. His obedience to The Father meant enduring the cross and offering His life as the ultimate sacrifice for us all. He set us free. So where is God calling you to stay? What can you do to bring His peace into your relationships, work, school, and world? May we live with such costly love and stay in the hard places until this earth looks more like our God’s heaven and peace prevails.     

About the author: The Rev. Rich Leatherberry is the Associate Pastor for Missions at Bellevue Presbyterian Church. Rev. Leatherberry received his MDiv from Fuller Seminary and was ordained in 1988.  He served as Associate Pastor at North Creek Presbyterian Church before coming to Bellevue Presbyterian Church as their first full-time mission pastor in 1999.  Rich has been married to his wife, Kristen, for 38 years.  They have three children and 5 grandsons. Bellevue Presbyterian is a longtime CMEP Church Partner. Rich and several other pastors and leaders from Bellvue have traveled to the Middle East with CMEP numerous times over the years. 

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).

3 Comments On “Prayers4Peace: Third Sunday of Lent 2024”

  1. Thank you so much for that message. I needed it as I am trying to find a way to form a delegation to go and visit in solidarity with the Palestinian Christian Nassar family living in Bethlehem. They find it so hard to get safely to their farm, Tent of Nations, SW of the city near Nahalin, West Bank. And transportation thru military checkpoints is very risky.


  2. Pray for Gaza .Pray for peace
    and justice for all .


  3. I read it again tonite. I found myself writing again passionately to some fellow Americans of faith who are pro-Palestinian to challenge them to join me in a delegation to the West Bank to stand in solidarity with a beautiful Palestinian Christian family who have been so resilient, super “Hupomone” in staying on their land despite the hurt and humiliation of the occupation. I already got one reply indicating a desire to make the trip to the West Bank with me except for a trip planned for the same time period. I found that encouraging in support of standing with Sumud. Please thank Rich for his timely thots and affirmations. We need to share them and feel their value inwardly to continue the journey.


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