October 12, 2023
The level of depravity of the Hamas attack on Israel continues to reveal itself. The accounts of the manner in which civilians, including infants and children were targeted for death are beyond troubling.
I know the conflict between Israel and Palestine has a lengthy and complicated history. And I recognize that civilians in Palestine are now witnessing death and destruction of their homes and communities as Israel responds with a declaration of war.
We may feel somewhat isolated from what is happening in the Middle East. Much as it may seem as if the events in the Ukraine, where the Russian invasion has continued for over a year and a half is happening in a distant land and hardly interrupting our lives. But while there may be thousands of miles separating Missouri from the Middle East, I believe what is unfolding between Israel and Palestine touches our lives.
Once again, our world is watching as violence responds to violence. I fully support Israel’s right to retaliate and to do so with force. But as it was for our country when terrorism struck on September 11, the loss of life and destruction of communities is only beginning in both countries.
So what can we do? Above all, I urge you to pray for peace. People of all faiths, including Christian, Jewish and Muslims are committed to moving toward a day when there will be peace on earth. The Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church has shared some resources to help us pray for peace and learn about the conflict in the Holy Land.
I also believe the ongoing war in the Holy Land is working on our minds and spirits in ways we may not even recognize. Once again, part of our world is on fire sparked by deep division and hatred. We wonder if healing in places far away and close to home will ever be possible. We find ourselves crying out with the words of a familiar hymn, “Cure your children’s warring madness, bend our pride to your control.”*
As followers of Jesus, I hope we can be people who see the ways division and distrust are prompting so many of into one “camp” or another.
Jesus reached across boundaries, showed compassion in unconventional ways, and called for us to help bring God’s peaceable kingdom back to earth. Violence will never lead to an end of violence. War will never result in the end of war. Suspicion and isolation will never bring healing.
make of me some nourishment
for these starved times,
some food for my brothers and sisters
who are hungry for gladness and hope,
that, being bread for them,
I may also be fed
and be full.**
* God of Grace and God of Glory, Henry Emerson Fosdick, 1930
**Excerpted from: Ted Loder, From Guerillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battles, 20th Anniversary ed., 2005