‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee’ (Psalm 122)
We have all watched in horror as war has once again engulfed the peoples of the Holy Land. Our hearts break at the innocent suffering of so many, and we pray fervently for a swift end to the conflict, the release of those held hostage, and a just peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.
As Christians who follow in the Way of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we must unequivocally condemn any acts of violence that harm the children of God. The unspeakably brutal attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians and military personnel which launched this latest conflict must be denounced in the strongest possible terms. That’s especially true given the long history of anti-Semitic rhetoric and violence against our Jewish sisters and brothers.
Likewise, I believe we must raise our voice and call for an immediate ceasefire before the indiscriminate bombing in Gaza and possible ground invasion kills tens of thousands of innocent civilians. As the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said in a recent statement, “I plead that the sins of Hamas are not borne by the citizens of Gaza, who themselves have faced such suffering over many decades. The price of evil cannot be paid by the innocent.”
In the face of such suffering, many of us are asking what action we can take. I believe there are three things we can do:
Deepen our understanding. This latest conflict is obviously part of a very deep and complicated history. Neat oversimplifications are rarely helpful, and especially not in this case. I would invite us all to dig deeper and learn more about the roots of the conflict and ways we can work toward its resolution. I commend to you this collection of Resources for the Conflict in the Holy Land.
Pray. We are, first and last, people of prayer. Prayer matters, and we must pray without ceasing. Pray for those hurt, harmed or killed. Pray for those caring for the injured. Pray for those serving in defense of their country. Pray for those who must make decisions that affect the lives of others. Pray for peace. And yes, as Jesus commanded, pray for your enemies.
Get involved. Even at a distance, we can get involved and make a difference. Consider a financial contribution to the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, who support incredible hospitals, schools, and other institutions throughout Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and beyond. Write or call your elected officials to advocate for a ceasefire and diplomatic resolution to the conflict. Engage with your neighbors and be an advocate for peace and justice in your local community.
Tuesday’s heart-rending attack on the Al Ahli Anglican Episcopal Hospital in Gaza made even more clear how much innocent suffering can yet unfold. We know that God is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) and hears the cries of his people when they suffer (Exodus 3:7). Let us do the same, and pursue all that makes for peace.
With my love and prayers,
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and forever. Amen.
“For Peace,” Book of Common Prayer, p. 815.