Tag: Israel

Prayers4Peace: A Brief History of the Work of the American Baptist Churches in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt)

By Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, General Secretary Emeritus, American Baptist Churches

American Baptist work in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt) began with the appointment of Dr. Wes Brown in 1973 to serve as the director of the Center for the Study of Religions which was situated in Jerusalem. From 1978-1984, Dr. Brown served on the staff of the Ecumenical Institute for Theological Research in Tantur, led the Jerusalem Rainbow Group which was an interfaith group encompassing Jews, Muslims and Christians and provided leadership to the Ecumenical Theological Fraternity. Dr. Brown later became the American Baptist representative to Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

During these years American Baptists became sensitized to the issues related to the occupation of the Palestinian Territory by the State of Israel and the ongoing conflict between the two. Two specific policy actions were taken by the denomination during this time:

  • Policy Statement on Human Rights – 1976, which included “The right of citizenship in a nation, to participate in the political process, to form political parties, to have a voice in decisions made in the political arenas, to be secure from fear of deportation or expulsion, to emigrate and to have political asylum.”
  • Resolution on the Middle East and Arab-Israeli Issues – 1980, which affirmed “the right of Israel to exist within secure and internationally recognized borders” and “the right of self-determination of the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank (called Judea and Samaria by others) and the Gaza Strip.”

In 1984, American Baptists were founding members of Churches for Middle East Peace and have vigorously supported a two-state solution and decried the continuing encroachment on Palestinian territory as provocative and destructive of a two-state solution, while also condemning attacks upon Israelis. This coalition has been the primary vehicle for American Baptists’ work for peace with justice in the Middle East.

From 2002-2015, American Baptists co-led Peace Pilgrimages to Israel and Palestine with the Church of the Brethren to further educate our constituencies about the issues. These pilgrimages intentionally engaged with Israelis and Palestinians in an effort to understand the issues, to redress Evangelical Zionism, and to inform our prayers and our advocacy for peace.

In the same timeframe, American Baptists launched an effort in interfaith understanding between Baptist Christians and Muslims. Three North American dialogues were created and held with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). American Baptists also cofounded Shoulder to Shoulder, an effort by Christians, Muslims and Jews to address Islamophobia in the US post-9/11. ABC was represented in the conference that led to the Marrakesh Declaration and subsequent interfaith efforts by the Peace Forum of Abu Dhabi. These efforts were rooted in ABC’s concern for peace in the Middle East.

In addition, American Baptists have been a supporting organization of the Bethlehem Bible College (BBC) and its efforts in education among the Palestinian people, and have participated in humanitarian relief efforts and the resettlement of refugees in the US through Church World Service.


Lord God, thank you for the historic and present day
engagement of ABC and their efforts toward
supporting and encouraging peace and justice
in the Middle East.

Go before them and CMEP in their continued efforts
as they work alongside other Christians, Jews, Muslims,
and people of all faith traditions to promote a
resolution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict
and an end to the occupation of the Palestinian people.

In Jesus’ name.
Amen


Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley is one of the longest serving General Secretaries (2002-2015) of American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA),  having retired January 4, 2016, as the pastoral and administrative leader of the 1.3-million-member denomination. To learn more about the American Baptist Churches, USA, visit their website: https://www.abc-usa.org/


Any views or opinions contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

Prayers4Peace: Blue Wolf – A Sinister Surveillance

Blue Wolf: A Sinister Surveillance
By Susan Nchubiri, Ecumenical Accompanier in Jerusalem

In November 2021, Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization of army veterans against the occupation, gave testimonies about a very sinister method of surveillance. They call it  Blue Wolf. Blue Wolf is a facial recognition app used to surveil, monitor, and control Palestinians in the oPt. See Israel Surveils.  To give you an example, one morning, as we were doing a school run (walking around the Old City monitoring if the Israeli soldiers were denying children to go to school or if they were searching and harassing school children), we saw a young Palestinian man aged around 17 or 18 years old, detained and surrounded by several Israeli border police. The officers constantly talked on the phone while one officer body-searched the young man. Six other Israeli officers arrived at the scene a few minutes later, including one who had stopped us earlier and checked our documents.  The youth was clearly in distress. I invite you to take a moment and see yourself surrounded by more than a dozen heavily armed police officers talking to you in a language you do not understand. After a while, the young man was escorted by three Israeli police officers to stand facing the surveillance cameras at the corner of the street. They asked him to speak loudly on the phone, with one of the officers listening in. Although we did not understand what he was saying or hear anyone speaking back to him, we gathered that they were trying to verify his identity.  

Another example is the story of Brahim (not his real name), a 14-year-old Palestinian boy from Sheikh Jarrah who has been arrested and brutally beaten four times in one year. His troubles began when the state authorities evicted Brahim’s Palestinian neighbors, and an Israeli settler family moved into that house. The Israeli settlers installed several cameras, including one that faces Brahim’s house door. The first time he was arrested, he had been playing with friends on the street near his home. The family was not told why he was arrested. The second time he was arrested, he was walking home. The third and fourth times, the police raided his home at 3 am and took him away. Each time the family is not given a reason for their child’s arrest. The family believes it is a way of intimidating and increasing pressure on them so that they move out of the house to have another settler move in. Brahim’s family home has an eviction order, but they took the case to court.  The trauma from beatings and arrests has left Brahim with high anxiety, which he relieves by chain-smoking. He has developed sight and hearing issues, and his parents report that he wakes up several times a night screaming for help.

One might think that the Israeli authorities will have accurate identification with this high-tech surveillance app (Blue Wolf). However, last week (May 27, 2022), we visited a family in the Old City of Jerusalem and met Nadhim (not his real name), an 18-year-old Palestinian young man. He shared that six months ago, while walking with his friends in the Old City, he was brutally assaulted by a group of more than a dozen Israeli border police who descended on him with blows and kicks even when he was on the ground. The assault resulted in 3 broken ribs, head hematoma, chest contusion, and numerous bruises.  He said, “I thought I was going to die that day, and I did not know why they were trying to kill me.”  The next day the Israeli soldiers told the family that it was a mistaken identity.  But was that kind of brutality warranted even if they had caught the person they were looking for? Why does the Israeli police force use such power?

Nadhim and his family have faced unprecedented hostility from the Israeli police and harassment from the settlers who moved next door to them. Like many other Palestinian families who are unfortunate to have a settler neighbor, they live in fear. This young man was first arrested when he was 15 and on his way to school. He was in Israeli police custody for one week and two weeks under house arrest. While in custody, he was beaten badly by the police. He has since been arrested nine more times, and the reasons are never given. His three brothers have also been arrested multiple times. He dropped out of school at 15 because he could not concentrate in classes after the first assault and arrest. He got depressed and did not want to leave his house. His mother, who is from Gaza, has applied for a resident permit for 25 years and has not received one to date. As a result, she cannot leave the Old City of Jerusalem to visit relatives in the West Bank. Family separation or disintegration is one more tool the Israeli occupation authorities use to control the Palestinians in the oPt.

A flying checkpoint. A daily occurrence in the Old City of Jerusalem (photo by Werner – EA- 04/17/2022)

If this sort of injustice happened in other democratic countries, it and all other incidents would have warranted an investigation and probably a prosecution, but every Palestinian in oPt that we have talked with about filing a complaint has said something along the lines of, “we will be wasting our time to report to the Israeli authorities because nothing will be done. Even when we are being attacked by settlers and call for help, the police come and just watch over us as the perpetrators beat us, vandalize, and destroy our property.  If we dare protect ourselves, we get beaten and arrested by those who should be protecting us. It is only in this country where a thief comes to your home, and when you call the police for help, the police come to beat you up and arrest you while the perpetrator walks off happy.” To whom do these people turn for help? How on earth can this type of inhumanity happen and continue to occur in myriad ways?

Recently, a former Israeli soldier told us that their orders in the oPt are to protect the Israeli settlers even when Israelis have started the clashes. What would you call this kind of discrimination? Why criminalize one person and vindicate another just because of their race? 

I teared up the other day when we went to Sheikh Jarrah, and the Palestinian young men there said it is normal for the police to attack and arrest them when they call for help. Two young Palestinian men who were not involved in the Jerusalem Day clashes were arrested. Fadhil (not his real name) started running home when he saw the Israeli settlers descend into his neighborhood. He wanted to be with his family, but the Israeli police stopped him and arrested him. The Israeli officers then walked to Fadhil’s parent’s house and asked his young brother Nashir (not his real name) to come outside with them for questioning. When they got to the street, Nashir was handcuffed too and taken to the Israeli police station. We went the following day to check on the family. The parents were not home; they had gone to the police station to seek release for their sons. Their younger son (19 years) has been in jail for four months and hasn’t been brought to court yet.  

We spoke to Rahima (not her real name), who told us that when the Israeli police saw her crying as they beat a young boy, they asked her, “why are you crying? Beating terrorists is normal.” She told us the boy the Israeli police officer was assaulting was only ten years old. She told the officer that it was not normal for an adult to hit a child and that the child was not a terrorist. The little boy had not committed any crime except stepping into the street to see what the commotion was all about. Rahima also told us that her parents, especially her dad, have taught them never to hate anyone, including the people who continue to harass them in Sheikh Jarrah. She said, “we have learned that hate destroys you, not the person you hate.”

Every day, when I walk in the Old City of Jerusalem or stand at the Checkpoints and witness how young Palestinian boys and young men are roughly handled by the Israeli police officers, I can’t but conclude that Palestinian youth is criminalized. When a Palestinian man attacks an Israeli, the reports on media are usually “a terrorist attack.” Still, when the Israeli settlers raid homes, attack Palestinians and vandalize Palestinian places of worship, nobody reports these incidents as terror attacks. Is terrorism racialized? Only one kind of people can be terrorists and not the other? What would happen if the media reports were balanced and honest? 

If the Blue Wolf was meant for security purposes and not surveilling Palestinians, why are we having medical reports of people attacked by settlers in Sheikh Jarrah indicating that unknown assailants assaulted them?  Furthermore, there were video clips on social media and the neighbors of the settlers who carried out the incursions and the assaults. Again, Israel is misusing the term security as a cover to surveil, intimidate, harass, and continue the occupation of Palestinian territories.  No country has the right to hide oppression under the guise of security. 


Dear God of love and compassion,
we humbly come to you crying from the depths of our hearts.

God, may you be attentive to the voice of our supplication.

We pray that you transform us, especially those who
inflict pain and injustice on others.

We pray for the restoration of dignity for all.
Amen


Susan Nchubiri is a Maryknoll Sister and a Master of Global Affairs student at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, specializing in International Peace Studies. She is currently serving as an Ecumenical Accompanier with the World Council of Churches’ EAPPI program. She previously worked as a community organizer in Haiti where she founded 2 self-help women’s groups, a micro-credit co-operative, a community garden, and a goat-raising project for a youth group. Before that, she worked as a campus minister and pastoral caregiver to students, migrant workers, and prisoners in Hong Kong. Susan had also worked in campus ministry in Chicago and volunteered weekly at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center.  She was program director at Euphrasia Women Refuge Center and at Maria House Imani Projects in Nairobi Kenya where she worked hand in hand with the social workers and instructors to support vulnerable women and children.

If you would like to learn more about the EAPPI program, please visit their website.


Any views or opinions contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

Prayers4Peace: Transformation

Transformation
by Rev. Su McClellan, Senior Church Engagement Manager at Embrace the Middle East

The day I first set eyes on the separation barrier is one that I will never forget. Back in 2004, the village of Abu Dis near Jerusalem had been sliced in half by 30 feet of vertical concrete, stretching as far as the eye could see. The local grocery store had been cut off from the houses it served. Families and neighbours had been forced apart and looking at its wounding presence broke my heart.

My next stop was the Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was such an appropriate place to reflect on what I’d just experienced. In that garden, Jesus faced the consequences of human sin, but it was also the place where he chose to go to the cross and transform it. Jesus took the worst possible human violence and transformed it into a bridge, reconnecting humanity with God. Sitting in the church reminded me that walls, rockets, bullets, and checkpoints are not paragraphs in the final chapter. The resurrection tells the story of healing, forgiveness, new life, and therefore new possibilities and we are all invited to write ourselves into its narrative.

Embrace the Middle East has been part of the story since 1854. Originally founded as The Turkish Missions Aid Society in 1854, an evangelical charity supporting missionary work among Armenian Christians in Turkey, the name was eventually changed to Embrace the Middle East in 2012. Its vision is to tackle poverty and injustice in the Middle East through education, community, and healthcare. It forms partnerships with churches and Christian organisations that offer their services to all in need in their communities, regardless of their national identity or beliefs. Their work changes lives. 

The challenges faced by Embrace’s partners, in what is known to many as the Holy Land, are many and complex. Yet, despite these challenges, they continue to show and tell the story of God’s love. Since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 over a million olive trees have been destroyed as a result of settlement expansion, military zoning, and settler violence. Embrace’s partners have responded to this destruction by planting thousands of replacement trees, supporting Palestinian farmers, and standing up for human and equal rights. Something violent and brutal has been transformed into something beautiful and fruitful.

We have supported partners in Gaza, who when faced with the destruction of last year’s war, responded by providing counseling and therapy, often through the medium of the arts, for children and young adults. In Jericho, our partners are providing leadership training for young people. The programme includes taking them on trips to discover and understand their rich Palestinian heritage – giving them reasons to stay and work for peace with justice. Hopelessness and despondency are transformed into tenacity and the courage to dream.

For many children, growing up in the shadow of the occupation leaves terrible scars both physical and emotional. Embrace’s partner Musalaha reflects the reconciling love of God by training both Palestinian and Israeli young women in the Stages of Reconciliation, Conflict Transformation, and Listening. The project won’t change government policy, but it does offer the possibility of the transformation of relationships at a grassroots level.

After his resurrection, Jesus’ body still carried the scars
of the violence inflicted upon him.


Transformation does not hide from what has been and
the Holy Land and all those who call it home

will carry the scars of its history into the future,
just as Christ carried his into eternity.

But scar tissue is also a sign of healing,
and it is for healing and hope that our partners work so diligently.

Of course, we pray for the day when justice will flow like rivers through Israel and Palestine. But until that day comes, please pray for the partners and friends of Embrace the Middle East who, in following Christ, make transformation possible.


Rev. Su McClellan, Senior Church Engagement Manager, has been at Embrace the Middle East for 15 years and works in the Church Engagement Team. She regularly leads Encounter Tours to Israel and Palestine, giving Christians the opportunity to see for themselves the impact of the ongoing conflict on the people who call the land home. Su is also curate at Coventry Cathedral, home to the Community of the Cross of Nails, an international network of peacebuilders.


Any views or opinions contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

Prayers4Peace: Revisited – Being Children of God

Prayers4Peace: Revisited

At Churches for Middle East Peace, we understand that the work of holistic peacebuilding and advocacy is ongoing, and sometimes, the issues we faced in the past are still present with us today in a variety of ways.

With Prayers4Peace: Revisited we would like to occasionally share some of our previous Prayers4Peace blogs with you that we believe are still important messages to us today. We hope that you are encouraged as you continue supporting in prayer those working towards a just peace in Israel, Palestine, and the broader Middle East.


Being Children of God

by Sarah Withrow King, Former Deputy Director of Christians for Social Action
Originally posted November 19, 2013

Lord Jesus,

We are mothers and fathers;
we are sisters and brothers;
we are a family connected by your love.

God, we acknowledge that we are all your children. Each of us created in your holy image. Each of us created to love you and to love one another.

God, we praise you as the creator and caretaker of all children. You see all of your children. You love all of your children. You want every child to flourish in communities of care and concern. We praise you, Holy One.

God, we confess that we have failed to love well. We confess that we see your children with eyes clouded by past hurts and prejudice, by fear and uncertainty. We see one another not as recipients of your precious love, but as enemies and strangers. We see one another, not as children see other children, with curiosity, joy, and excitement, but as  enemies view enemies, with animosity, anxiety, and mistrust.

God, we mourn for your children.
We mourn especially for children who nurse at their mother’s breast while rockets scream through the sky;
For children confused by prejudice,  unaware of the history written on their forehead.
For children who cannot go to school; for children who hunger and thirst; and for children who are sick but cannot access medical care.

God, we mourn for your children who live soaked in fear, instead of your love.

Lord Jesus, help us to love well.
Help us to see the old and the young;
the Christian, the Muslim, and the Jew;
the Syrian, the Israeli, the Iranian, the Pakistani,
the Japanese, the American…
every body as part of your body.

We love you, Jesus.


The original story was written by Sarah Withrow King, Deputy Director of the Sider Centre at Eastern University, and an associate fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.


Any views or opinions contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

Prayers4Peace: Revisited – Running for Human Rights

Introducing Prayers4Peace: Revisited

At Churches for Middle East Peace, we understand that the work of holistic peacebuilding and advocacy is ongoing, and sometimes, the issues we faced in the past are still present with us today in a variety of ways.

With Prayers4Peace: Revisited we would like to occasionally share some of our previous Prayers4Peace blogs with you that we believe are still important messages to us today. We hope that you are encouraged as you continue supporting in prayer those working towards a just peace in Israel, Palestine, and the broader Middle East.


Running for Human Rights

Sara Burback, a former volunteer at Churches for Middle East Peace.
Originally posted May 15, 2018

On March 23, I had the opportunity to join over 7,000 runners of all ages gathered in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, awaiting the signal to cross the starting line to begin the 6th annual Palestine Marathon. Established in support of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State,” the route of the Palestine Marathon begins in front of the Church of the Nativity and runs through two refugee camps. In order to demonstrate the restrictions to freedom of movement within the West Bank for Palestinians in their daily lives, runners journey alongside the eight-meter-high separation barrier and around the guard towers posted in various parts of the wall’s route.

The Palestine Marathon is a unique official race, in that most participants carry a personal motive for running, tied to their view of human rights and their fundamental right to movement within their homeland. “I’m running for the freedom of my people, the Palestinians,” says Jack Sara, the President of Bethlehem Bible College. “As I’m walking, I’m praying that the Lord will give mercies upon this land.” For Palestinians, the land of Palestine represents their history and collective identity as a people, and the race is an opportunity to physically express this intimate connection to the land and their right within this space to live out their narratives and freedom of movement. It is a collective voice expressing the need for change within a system that does not recognize their basic rights.

As a runner who has had the opportunity to participate in this race for the past three years, the general motivation comes from the view that the race is an opportunity to demonstrate the inherent need for change within the system of forced separation between Israelis and Palestinians. This is most clearly seen in their lack of freedom of movement, which is encountered on a daily basis by Palestinians in the West Bank. Whether traveling by foot or commuting from Bethlehem in the West Bank to Jerusalem, Palestinians face the separation barrier, pop-up checkpoints and sporadic road closures, checkpoints to cross from the West Bank into Israel proper, and settler-only roads across the West Bank, which Palestinians are forbidden from driving on.

“I’m running for freedom of movement,” said a runner from the city of Tubas in the northern West Bank. “…We need to breathe, we need to fly, we need to swim…[these] barriers are no longer accepted. The international community should pay attention.” One family pushing two strollers on the race course said they were running for freedom and their children. Many runners viewed the race itself as a physical form of expression of their need for free movement and their basic human rights, and the race was a way for participants to collectively demonstrate this by running, walking, or in some cases, dancing their way through the course.

The message of the race has annually drawn a number of international participants as well, who have traveled from throughout Europe and the United States to run in solidarity alongside the local community in a unified act of civil resistance. Participants carried flags from Finland, Ukraine, Denmark, Ireland, the UK, and other countries as a message of international recognition of the Palestinian struggle for equality. One runner from Norway was participating in his third Palestine Marathon, saying that he brings a group every year to experience the beauty of Palestine and to meet the people.

As an American Christian, this race holds significance for me as a way to encounter the city of Jesus’ birth in a way that lives out his work of redemption for the land and its people. When I reflect on his words from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 and the justice that Jesus calls his disciples to yearn for through showing mercy and seeking to be peacemakers, I find the simple act of running as a way of connecting with his message of reconciliation and sending a resounding “NO” to the injustice in the land. It is a way of being part of a larger story of peacemaking, which we can all find our role within, both as individuals and as part of organizations.

A number of international NGO workers based in the West Bank and Jerusalem also participated, including a team from UNICEF. “We’re here today with our own children to run for children in the State of Palestine,” said Genevieve Boutin, the Special Representative to the State of Palestine from UNICEF. “For children and young people still developing, the physical and mental benefits of sport and play set the foundation for healthy development and lifelong learning. It also gives them an opportunity to express themselves in a positive setting.”

Canon David Longe, the Chaplain to the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem, said he was running to raise funds for cancer treatment in Gaza, where the Anglican church runs the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, but lacks the resources to treat cancer patients there. Despite obstacles of cost and the blockade on Gaza, their goal is to build a cancer unit in the hospital to ensure patients in need of life-saving treatment have proper access.

American runner Celia Riley has participated in the race every year since it began in 2013. She runs in solidarity with the local community in Bethlehem and describes the race as a journey for her: “Combining my heart for justice and running, hours side-by-side with people from all over the world, experiencing the Palestinian community around us, we become witnesses to their hospitality but we also see the humanity that’s restricted by the walls and checkpoints.”

Being present in the story of this race is a contribution to a much larger narrative. It is a narrative of the collective right to movement, the firm belief that peace can prevail in the Holy Land, and that God is in the midst of this place and continuing the work of redemption here. This redemption took place as each runner ran alongside the immense separation wall and crossed the finish line, and as they retold the story of overcoming adversity to run a challenging course on a very hot day to be part of a collective story of community. Being part of this shared story recognizes the shared belief that we are contributing not only to changing the present conditions, but working towards a future in which the huge physical wall we faced together will one day come down and that future generations will be part of a shared narrative of redemption and reconciliation that was written for them, beginning with crossing the finish line of this race.

Returning for the past three years to participate in this shared journey is an honor and story I will keep telling. It is a reminder that each of us has a role in dismantling the physical, emotional, and political walls we face in our own lives and collective narratives, and that it is our sacred duty to recognize these walls within ourselves and stand in solidarity alongside those who face these walls and help tear them down.


Jesus, I thank you for showing us your heart for justice through your everyday pursuit of peacemaking.

I thank you that your Spirit continues to live among your people in the Holy Land through the work of engaging in dialogue and participating in acts of creative civil resistance.

May your message of reconciliation continue to be heard, and may it spread among the Israelis and Palestinians there, so each person recognizes their role within a shared narrative of redemption of the land.

And may we all support this peacemaking through our own everyday acts of peacemaking.

Amen.


In the spring of 2022, CMEP’s own Manager of Middle East Relationships, Kevin Vollrath, also ran this race.

Kevin says, “I initially decided to participate in this race to help pace someone doing one of their first half-marathons. I got to know him through an organization called Right to Movement, where I’ve made many Palestinian friends committed to fitness and advocacy for Palestinian rights, especially the right to travel. Running all over Bethlehem, starting and finishing at the Nativity Church, and passing the separation barrier, refugee camps, and social hubs was a way to celebrate the life and culture of Bethlehem as well as acknowledge the many injustices surrounding it.”


The original story was written by Sara Burback, a former volunteer at Churches for Middle East Peace.

To find out how you can volunteer with CMEP, please visit our website.


Any views or opinions contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

Prayers4Peace: Beyond Dehumanization

Beyond Dehumanization
By Susan Nchubiri, Ecumenical Accompanier in Jerusalem
 

As I write, my heart is heavy with sadness and anger at the horrific dehumanization and hatred toward the Palestinian people by the Israeli military and police. This week has been especially painful for most Palestinians because of the senseless and brutal killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-respected journalist from Jerusalem. She was fatally shot, and her colleague, Ali Samoudi, was seriously injured by a bullet to his back, but he survived. The journalists were shot while covering an Israeli military operation in Jenin Refugee Camp in the West Bank. This area has experienced numerous Israeli military raids and lockdowns since March 2022, when some violent attacks were carried out in Hadera and Tel Aviv by individuals alleged to be from the camp or nearby. The raids and lockdowns have not only traumatized the civilians but also affected them socially and economically because those who work in Israel were denied entry into Israel. Jenin was closed even during Ramadan and the Easter Holy Weeks; therefore, people from that area could not participate in their special worship ceremonies in Jerusalem. This use of collective punishment by Israeli authorities is a violation of human rights.

On May 13, as the mourners carried Shireen’s casket, the Israeli police intervened by beating and throwing stun grenades at the mourners, including the pallbearers. What threat was a dead body? What security threat did pallbearers pose? At one point, the coffin almost fell to the ground. Why not let the family, friends, and the city mourn their daughter, sister, and friend? Shireen was a courageous journalist. One mourner I saw carried a poster with these words Shireen spoke at the 25th anniversary of Al Jazeera, “I chose to become a journalist to be close to people. It may not be easy to change reality, but I was at least able to bring their voice to the world.” Thousands of people came out to say goodbye to their beloved Shireen. Even her death has brought the voices of the Palestinians out to the world. 

As the armed officers terrorized the mourners, they also confiscated Palestinian flags, smashed the hearse’s window carrying Shireen’s body, and removed a Palestinian flag. It is reported that thirty-three people were injured, and some were hospitalized. Several Palestinian mourners were arrested, and most of these arrests were carried out by Israeli officers dressed in civilian clothes. Some in our team witnessed 3 of these arrests.

The international community has reacted with words like: “We were deeply troubled by the images of Israeli police intruding into the funeral procession of Palestinian American Shireen Abu Akleh. Every family deserves to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified and unimpeded manner” (Blinken – US Secretary of State). A statement from the European Union says, “The EU condemns the disproportionate use of force and the disrespectful behavior by the Israeli police against the participants of the mourning procession.” Many other internationals expressed their displeasure, but what does this mean for the Palestinians living under the occupation? What does this mean for people who live without knowing whether they will be allowed to go to work, school, place of worship, or farmland, or when they leave home if they will return without being harassed and violently attacked by the police or settlers? The inhumanity that the world saw during Shireen’s funeral is just one incident. It is one example of what Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories endure daily, whether in arbitrary arrests and detention, denial of access to their livelihood, worship, or any form of movement. Even after the condemnation of Israeli action at the funeral procession by various world leaders and internationals, on May 16, the Israeli military again attacked mourners going to the funeral of Walid Al Shareef. Walid succumbed to gunshot injuries incurred on April 29 at the Al Aqsa compound when the Israel police stormed the compound beating up the worshippers. It is reported that over 50 people were injured at the funeral and were brought to Al Maqseed hospital.


Firm action to pressure Israel to respect human rights and end the occupation must accompany the words of condemnation from world leaders. Each of us has a responsibility to do something to bring a positive change to the oppressed brothers and sisters in Palestine.


Susan Nchubiri is a Maryknoll Sister and a Master of Global Affairs student at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, specializing in International Peace Studies. She is currently serving as an Ecumenical Accompanier with the World Council of Churches’ EAPPI program. She previously worked as a community organizer in Haiti where she founded 2 self-help women’s groups, a micro-credit co-operative, a community garden and goat-raising project for a youth group. Before that she has worked as a campus minister and pastoral care giver to students, migrant workers and prisoners in Hong Kong. Susan had also worked in campus ministry in Chicago and volunteered weekly at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center.  She was program director at Euphrasia Women Refuge Center and at Maria House Imani Projects in Nairobi Kenya where she worked hand in hand with the social workers and instructors to support vulnerable women and children.

If you would like to learn more about the EAPPI program, please visit their website.


Any views or opinions contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

Prayers4Peace: An Easter Never to Forget

An Easter Never to Forget
By Susan Nchubiri, Ecumenical Accompanier in Jerusalem

“Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees who were telling him to admonish his disciples to keep quiet. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,“ He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
(Luke 19:37-40).

On April 5, 2022, our first full day at the EAPPI placement house in East Jerusalem, we went to a parish in Beit Hanina to meet with the Palestinian youth and scouts leader. He gave us a rundown of the upcoming two Holy Week services. The youth and scouts were charged with organizing the processions. At this meeting, Rafi, the youth and scout leader, quoted these words, “if they keep silent, the living stones will shout out.” He added, “the Israeli authorities want to silence the Palestinian Christians, but we won’t be silenced.  We have hope in the Risen Savior”. I heard the same words again on Palm Sunday, the EAPPI Handover Service (between Team 82 and my team), and Holy Thursday. I have heard these words proclaimed at Mass several times, but never did they have a similar impact on me as they do now. These words struck me deeply when a young woman speaking to the Church leadership and the faithful gathered at Bethpage at the start of the Catholic (Western Churches’) Holy Week. She said, “If they keep silent, the living stones will shout out, the living stones will speak…. We are the living stones; we shall speak for us and for Palestine, we shall uphold our faith, and we shall speak for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. We want you (Church) to include us.”

On Palm Sunday, as thousands of worshippers processed down the hill waving palm and tree branches, national flags, and singing “Hosanna,” occasional groups broke into dance and shouts of jubilation. I kept thinking of the many Palestinian Christians who had wanted to enter Jerusalem that day to celebrate this special day in their faith tradition. They could not because the Israeli authorities denied their permits to enter Jerusalem. I watched as flags from different countries of Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia waved above heads, pilgrim groups’ flags, scarves, etc., contributing to the colorful procession. BUT not a single Palestinian flag, scarf, or lapel pin bearing the Palestinian flag colors. They had been ordered not to bring their flags or even wear a scarf or a lapel pin with their flag colors. Should one be found to break this order, the procession would be stopped. Israeli authorities usually apply collective punishment. When a single Palestinian violates a law, the punishment extends to their family and sometimes the whole village. One example is a parent or a sibling related to anyone in jail will be denied entry into Jerusalem. Another example is from the Jenin refugee camp, where after a young man from a nearby village attacked people in Tel Aviv, the Israeli military went on raids in the camp.

With all the joy and jubilation around me, I felt sad. I kept hearing the words, “if they are silent, the living stones will shout out.” Indeed, at this Palm Sunday procession, the living stones were shouting out. And when at an entrance to the Old City, New Gate, the police officers started blocking the scout procession to St. Savior Church, the faithful stood their ground. They would not let the police change the route because this might set a precedent.

Israel not only denies the Palestinians access to fundamental human rights but also the right to self-determination. For this, Israel has received a lot of condemnation from the international community, but nothing has changed.

Jerusalem is claimed by three Abrahamic faith traditions (Christians, Jews, Muslims) as their inheritance and hence their holy city. The Christian faith has two large divisions: Eastern and Western Churches, and each starts its liturgical calendars at different times; therefore, Jerusalem ends up with two Holy Weeks for Easter. For Muslims, the schedule for Ramadan is guided by a lunar calendar, and for Jews, the timing of Pesach is somewhat consistent. Every 30 years or so, Easter, Pesach, and Ramadan overlap. The weekend of Friday, April 14 through Sunday, April 17 marked this rare overlap.

Initially, I had assumed that this would be a spectacularly memorable weekend in a positive way but listening to the news, reading social media, and receiving information from our security and field officer, my assumptions and aspirations of a special holy weekend were dashed. It was clear that tensions were high leading into this period. We braced for the worst and prayed for the best. Some Israeli ultra-orthodox Jewish settlers had planned on entering the Al Aqsa compound (Islam’s third holiest site) during Pesach (April 14-22) to perform a ritual animal sacrifice, which is illegal according to the status quo agreements and a provocative act. The Muslim community had vowed to protect their sacred space. On April 14, during the dawn prayers, heavily armed Israeli security officers stormed the Al Aqsa compound chasing away worshippers. The Israeli authorities allowed the afternoon prayers to go on as usual but then disrupted them again the following morning. The Catholic Way of the Cross celebration went on without any harassment from the Israeli security forces, although there were many of them along the path.

The Catholic and the Orthodox Church’s liturgical calendars being different meant that the Orthodox Church was celebrating Palm Sunday when Catholics celebrated Easter Sunday. Both celebrations were taking place in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I was designated to monitor access to worship at this site while also participating in the service. However, due to the two groups having their services simultaneously, the church was overcrowded and extremely noisy, so I felt I could not pray. I checked with my fellow accompaniers, and they told me that there were clashes at one of the gates to Al Aqsa Mosque/Haram al-Sharif. I decided to join them to monitor the situation.

I had left the chaotic but joyful “noise” at the Holy Sepulcher Church and its safety for the deafening sounds of stun/sound and lights bombs, gunshots, pushing and shoving, shouting, screaming, and ambulance sirens. Instead of celebrating Easter, new life, and the resurrection with joy, reverence, and jubilation, I was amid violence, pain, anger, and frustration. Several injured people were brought out on stretchers to the Red Crescent ambulances. Was this the reason why Jesus had cried when he entered Jerusalem? As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes (Luke 19:41-42).

When we sensed the clashes escalating, we moved away and returned later and stood at a safe distance, and when that space got unsafe, we moved again. While the Palestinian Muslims were being denied entry to Al Aqsa/Haram al-Sharif, my companions who went to monitor access at the site found around 30 or more Israeli Jews walking freely into the same compound. On April 15, more than 150 Palestinian worshippers were injured, and more than 400 others were arrested. This is only a little glimpse of how discriminatory the Israeli authorities are toward the Palestinian people. These words hit me again: “if they are quiet, the stones will cry out.” The Palestinian Muslim community wanted to go to the Mosque to pray, but they were constantly harassed and denied access. The gates are guarded by heavily armed police all the time.

On Holy Fire Saturday, the Orthodox Church’s celebrated day before the Orthodox Easter, brought another awakening of how arbitrarily the Israeli authorities apply their laws against the Palestinian people. Palestinian Christians from the West Bank were denied permits to attend this holy feast. A great majority of Palestinian Christians living in Jerusalem were denied access to the Old City. My teammate and I arrived at the Old City at 7:30 am to make our way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where the celebration of Holy Fire was taking place. We found every alley/street leading to the Christian quarter and the Church barricaded with metal bars and hundreds of police officers. We tried to access the Christian Quarter and Church compound from 7:30 am until 4:00 pm. Although the police brutality was not as pronounced as with the Muslims, there were a few violent beatings and arrests of worshippers trying to go to Church. The Orthodox Christians were trying to go to their holy place to worship in communion with each other. The Christians trying to get to Church and the Muslims trying to get to the Mosques are not criminals. Why do the Israeli security officers use excessive and brutal force to stop them? Why criminalize a people? “If they should be quiet, the stones will speak, will cry out.”

The Holy Fire Day was the only day that my movement in and out of the Old City of Jerusalem was restricted. Why was I so frustrated? The Palestinians go through these horrible experiences every day. They can’t move freely in their own land, and they can’t access their places of worship, education, medical care, work, etc., without permits. Reflecting on this experience brought tears to my eyes, not because of my own frustrations but the heightened awareness that this was the “normal” life for the Palestinians under the occupation. How can this inhumane living be normal? Talking with a teammate who had previously tried hard not to get angry or sad about the Palestinian situation, she acknowledged that Holy Fire Saturday experience had put her over the edge. She felt anger, despair, and sadness. Experiencing the restrictions and violence against us made the reality hit home. It is one thing to be in solidarity, empathize with another person, and have a different reality when one experiences those things, not by choice. One cannot adequately understand or feel the pain of another person. You can only feel your own. On this day, when we were denied access to worship and a police officer pushed me, I felt very sad. If this is repeatedly happening, how will I shield myself from being sensitized into accepting it as “normal” life under occupation?


Are you the stone being called to cry out, shout out the injustice
the Palestinians are suffering under the occupation laws?
Are you willing to speak to the forces that give Israel such liberty and power to oppress a people?


Susan Nchubiri is serving with the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) as an Ecumenical Accompanier. Any views or opinions contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the WCC. If you would like to learn more about the EAPPI program, please visit their website.


Any views or opinions contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

Prayers4Peace: “Is this really for me?”

“Is This Really for Me?”
by Rev. Rick Sides
The Moravian Church

 Since 1867 the worldwide Moravian Church has been involved in ministries of care, support, and advocacy for those in need in the Holy Land. The work began with founding a home in Jerusalem for persons with leprosy. Located in the Kidron Valley, not far from the Jaffa Gate outside of the Old City of Jerusalem, the home was named JESUSHILFE (the help of Jesus). By the 1880s, there were over 60 residents of the home, each receiving a place to live, medical treatment, and the loving support of a community grounded in acceptance and grace rather than banishment and fear. 

   By the time the nation of Israel was formed in 1948, the residents of the home included both Arab and Jewish patients. Still, the work of the home (which was physically located in the West Bank of what was then Jordan) became increasingly difficult. In 1957, the Moravian Church purchased a twenty-acre tract of land outside of Jerusalem near Ramallah, in the village of Abu Qash, to build an entirely new residential community. The new home was named Star Mountain. The new facilities opened in 1960, patients moved in, and over 7,000 trees were planted on the location, mainly through the efforts of Sister Johanna Larsen, a Danish Moravian nurse and administrator who had come to lead the work.

   By the 1970s, mainly due to the advances in medical treatments for the disease of leprosy, the Moravian Church refocused the work of the mission at Star Mountain to support Palestinian girls with mental disabilities. By the 1980s,  the work included a residential school and growing support for families in the surrounding villages who had children challenged by intellectual disabilities.

   Today the Star Mountain Rehabilitation Center – Moravian Church continues its significant work in Palestine. Currently, the center provides education, training, and rehabilitation for around 100 persons with intellectual disabilities whose ages range from three months to 40 years. A highly qualified ecumenical staff serves with outstanding commitment and pride to help secure a life of dignity for persons with intellectual disabilities. The vision of Star Mountain is that all persons with disabilities in Palestine shall have equal rights, the same as non-disabled persons, especially the right to education, social and economic integration, access to health care services, and protection from all kinds of abuse. The Moravian Church continues to feel privileged to serve there and share this vision. With this vision, Star Mountain continues to shine a bright light on the dream of a life of peace, justice, and equality for all people in the region.

   On one of the early trips I led to the Holy Land in the late 1990s, our Moravian group was able to visit Star Mountain. During the visit, members of our group were sitting on the school floor, interacting with some of the young children who had welcomed us with Danish cookies and hot tea (it was a cold January day!). Some members of our group had brought the students small gifts, which were enjoyed with great excitement and joy. One young boy with a gift in hand turned to one of our group and asked him a question in Arabic. A Star Mountain teacher nearby smiled and translated. The teacher said the boy had asked, “Is this really for me?”

   Is this really for me? I have thought many times about how profound and vital this question is. It is a question of faith, a question of grace, and a question of blessing. It is a question that continues to invite and inspire our witness to the gifts of Christ’s love, reconciliation, and healing work in the world, at places like Star Mountain and many more. Are these gifts for everyone? They certainly are! And as a Moravian, I am thankful that the light, dedication, and hard work of a small, faithful community on a beautiful, wooded hill north of Ramallah keeps that hope alive every day.

Students and Teachers at Star Mountain Rehabilitation Center

Gracious God, grant special measures of your grace and strength this day
to all those who serve the needs of people with intellectual disabilities.
Where there is darkness, may their faithfulness bring light;
where there is confusion, may their skills bring clarity and calm;
where there is fear, may their empathy and compassion bring trust;
and where there is exhaustion and desperation,
may their love bring new hope and sustaining joy.

We pray in the name of the One of Palestine who said,
“Let the little children come unto me,” even Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen

Rev. Rick Sides formerly served as the representative for the Moravians to the Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) board. He was also the pastor of Home Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. To find out more about the Moravian Church, visit their website.

Lent 2022: Easter Sunday

Turning Toward: An Easter Reflection
Aune Carlson 

Lent is a season of transition. A time of reflection, examination, repentance, and confession. As we transition from the season of Lent to Easter we recognize this is not a time for simply turning from but also an act of turning toward. Turning from decay, injustice, and death to fruitfulness, justice, and abundant life. Reading Luke 24:1-12 we see in the story of Easter – everything changed. 

That morning, the women went to the tomb, with spices as was the custom. Jesus had been crucified. Upon his death, the next task at hand was to turn toward his burial and all that needed to be done according to custom. During the course of the women’s actions to carry out their burial duties, they came upon the unexpected! 

The stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty except for the linen cloths that had been wrapped around Jesus. Terrified, grief-stricken, and perplexed they encounter “two men in dazzling clothes” who ask why they are looking for the living among the dead. The men told them Jesus was not there but had risen.

Upon the reminder of Jesus’ teaching, the women then turned toward home. They carried a secret that must be told! Instead of permitting their grief, doubt, and incomprehension to win, they turned in faith and ran toward the disciples to tell them about what they had learned.

Praise God for the faith of these women. In spite of all that they had endured, they trusted Jesus at his word and ran to share the good news. Turning toward belief and hope they hurried to share the good news. 

Though not all the apostles believed the women’s word, some did. Peter – upon hearing the news – ran toward the tomb. 

He ran to seek the truth, the man who denied knowing Jesus just days before RAN toward life and redemption. Amazed at what had happened, he returned home and I presume he shared the thrilling news with the others. 

It is true, at times the path ahead may seem too daunting, peace, justice, and reconciliation inconceivable, or downright impossible, however, it’s never too late to move from a state of lament and grief to turn toward God, going out into all the world sharing the good news that Christ is risen from the grave and we are redeemed!

Hosanna!

What does this good news mean for our work in the Middle East? Daily we hear discouraging news of people suffering, violent conflicts, and ongoing hostilities. It is easy to be discouraged as we learn about ongoing challenges and realities in the Middle East. May the glorious news of this Easter morning remind us that desolation and despair are not the end of the story. Rather, Christ has triumphed over death. While we celebrate this spiritual victory, we also know brokenness in this world will not triumph. 

This Easter we hold onto the hope that peace in the Middle East is possible, we turn toward God. Praying for equality where all people in the Middle East might have hope for a prosperous future. 

May we turn toward the morning, the light of a new day. Praying for justice in which goodness and righteousness will prevail.

May we turn toward our neighbors, friends, and enemies and participate in sharing the good news. Praying for reconciliation and building relationships, holding tight to the gifts of redemption and reconciliation through the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. 

As we turn toward God, may we be compelled to seek justice, righteousness, wholeness, and shalom in our lives, communities, the Middle East, and our world. May we turn toward peace where armed conflict will cease and violence will not be pursued as a means of rectification. 

God, we rejoice in the wonder of your resurrection, O Christ, but then tend to sink back into our old ways of thinking, heaving, and responding to people’s needs. We can rejoice with the angels and all humankind on Easter Sunday, but the tumult and strife of the days following the Day of Resurrection cause us to slip back into apathy and despair. Forgive us when we so easily become distracted by our own cares and worries that we ignore the needs of others around us. Forgive us when we forget your power and love for us. May you remind us of your call and call us back toward you and your service. Give us a spirit for rejoicing, willing hears and hands for helping, and voices for praising you forever. Amen. 

___

Written by Rev. Aune M. Carlson, Director of Operations for CMEP. Aune earned her Masters of Divinity and Masters of Nonprofit Administration and graduate certificates from North Park Theological Seminary and School of Business and Nonprofit Administration. Ordained by The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC).

Lent 2022: Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday, Holy Remaining
Jennifer Maidrand

Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment. (Luke 23: 50-56)

Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Holy Saturday 2013

Eight years ago today, I crammed my body into a crowded building filled with lit candles and singing and billowing incense. The faces of pilgrims and priests intermixed with those of saints in the form of icons watching over all who gathered to wait. And wait is what we did–hundreds of us curious souls–on the eve of Easter, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

Over the course of that night, I felt a strange calm sweep over me and a deep contentment inhabit my body. I had never experienced a collective ritual so magical, nor had I ever been more sure that I both knew exactly what I was waiting for and simultaneously hadn’t the slightest idea. This mystery is an element of a number of diverse Holy Saturday, or Saturday of Light, traditions which range from baptism renewal, to fasting and repentance, to a passing of Holy Fire.

This mystery is something we might resonate with as we reflect on a season of seeds planted, and dwell in the space of unknowing–that which is in between death and new life. Holy Saturday is an in-between time—a space that invokes pause, reflection, mourning, and dare I say, cultivating hope.

Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Holy Saturday 2013

In her book, Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining, Shelly Rambo writes of Holy Saturday as a “time of remaining,” a space where trauma dwells in the aftermath of death. Rambo insists that with the resurrection narrative, it is easy to “gloss over difficulty, casting it within a larger framework in which the new replaces the old, and in which good inevitably wins out over evil” (Rambo 2010, 6). Holy Saturday, for Rambo, is a space where the experience of death and trauma persists, where clear demarcations between death and life erode. Rambo’s concern regarding theological tendencies to approach suffering and trauma from a binary framework (i.e. death vs. life; good vs. evil; suffering vs. healed) adds important nuance to our Lenten reflections on working towards peace and justice in the Middle East.

In our work at Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), we are always navigating a Holy Saturday kind of tension. The realities of our partners and friends on the ground in the Middle East are all too often in “time of remaining”–in the wake of death and trauma. And we at CMEP join with our Muslim, Jewish, and Christian siblings in the Middle East in mourning, in prayer, in waiting. And we advocate for them—knowing that the space between tragedy and new life cannot be held alone.

Personally, I find reflecting in spaces of unknowing as a practice that is both challenging and nourishing to my faith. However, I know that dwelling in thoughtful tension is surely not a spiritual practice for everyone!

Nonetheless, I invite you to join me this Holy Saturday in waiting in the in-between space and perhaps imagining those whose daily realities might resemble that of Holy Saturday. Let us spend time in reflection or prayer about how we might better embrace the mangled relationship of death and hope in our peacebuilding and advocacy efforts, and better advocate for all lives in the Middle East.

Scripture does not reveal much about what might have occurred on the day between Jesus’ death and resurrection. While many who witnessed Christ’s crucifixion likely went home confused, scared, disappointed, or ashamed, it appears there were a few who were faithfully waiting, remaining. Joseph of Arimathea lovingly claimed and provided refuge for Christ’s brutalized body. The women who traveled with Jesus made preparations to properly bury his body. And then, it was the Sabbath. Before the women encountered Jesus alive in his own tomb and before the disciples met him on the road to Emmaus, there was a time in-between. And in that space of unknowing, trauma, and grief, they remained. 

In our reflections, we might ask:

In our work towards peace and justice, what might it look like for us to embrace this road of uncertainty, one that very tangibly links death and the journey towards resurrection? 

Could resurrection be something that is both waited for and cultivated? 

Might we embrace such a mindset as we continue to walk alongside our siblings in the Middle East and advocate for justice and peace among them?

Holy Saturday is indeed a space of holy mystery. So too is the life and hope that are cultivated in its midst.

God of mystery, we lift up our hurting hearts to you. Fill us with your divine comfort. Waiting God, we are comforted in knowing that you are in the in-between space. Nourish us with your presence, and let us draw from you a radical hope to remain in the struggle for peace and justice in the Middle East.

____

Jennifer Maidrand is the Outreach Manager for CMEP. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Bible and Cultures at Drew University, where she also earned her M.A. Her research focuses on how biblical interpretation and archeology have shaped the contemporary land of Palestine-Israel and its geo-politics. She is a member of the UCC Church and is committed to fostering interfaith and intercultural community education and dialogue around sacred texts, the earth, and politics. Jennifer is grateful to have the opportunity to utilize and grow these passions, previously as a fellow and now as a staff member with CMEP. 

Cited
Rambo, Shelly. Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2010.

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