The starless midnight of Gaza - praying for peace

Home » Church News » The starless midnight of Gaza - praying for peace
single_candle

Rachel Lampard is the Team Leader of the Joint Public Issues Team and has worked for the Methodist Church as Secretary for Parliamentary and Political Affairs since 2000 with responsibility for the Church's engagement with political issues in a range of areas.

She was a Commissioner with the Gambling Commission, responsible for regulating the gambling industry in the public interest, for 9 years, and is now a member of the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board. She was the Vice-President of the Methodist Conference 2016/17.

She reflects on the recent events in Gaza on 15th May 2018

On the 15th day of every month Methodists around Britain and Ireland pray with Christians in the Middle East.

Today I held my Methodist prayer handbook alongside my newsfeed, and I almost wept. Two weeks ago I was in Israel and Palestine, and as I prayed I pictured the people I met.

With the killings of at least 60 Palestinians in Gaza yesterday, and the killing and wounding of many others over the past few weeks, and the deliberate forestalling of any final status peace negotiations with the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, I prayed for Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land.

I pray for peace, but sometimes the bright spots of peace look as if they will be overwhelmed.

Just two weeks ago I saw something of the grinding reality of the occupation of the West Bank — the separation barrier, the checkpoints, the permit system, the military incursions, the expanding settlements. I heard the Israeli Defence Force spokesperson talk about how Gazan protesters were legitimate targets because they were Hamas supporters. And I heard the Palestinian Authority representative defend the speech by Mahmoud Abbas denying the nature of the Holocaust. I left the country feeling pessimistic and today it looks worse

And yet...I was also privileged to meet people committed to peace — the Hand in Hand school where Arabic and Hebrew are taught together and narratives of Israeli Independence Day are told alongside the stories of the Nakba 1. The Abraham Fund which finances initiatives which make encounters between communities more possible and equitable. Individuals committed to the dialogue which is a pre-requisite for peace. The family at the Tent of Nations with their patient, welcoming non-violent resistance against settlement encroachment in violation of international law.

The prospects for peace look grim today. But I find challenge in the words of Martin Luther King:

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."

Unarmed truth and unconditional love. Isn't this the way of Jesus, who walked the roads of the Holy Land, and teaches us the ways of justice and peace? As we "seek peace and pursue it" what does it mean to listen for the truth needed for justice and peace, and to let it be heard? How do we overcome the starless night of violence and injustice with the bright daybreak of unconditional love?

Today, all I can do is to pray for those who have been killed or injured, for those who are violent and those who are peaceful, for those who are striving for dialogue, for those who have the power and responsibility to negotiate for change, and for those who feel powerless. I will give to one of the charities working to pick up the pieces in Gaza. And I will read, listen and discuss with others how to act.

And so this day of all days I pray: "May true peace be found in the Holy Land, with Israelis and Palestinians understanding each other's needs....For all who live in the Holy Lands of sacred scriptures, we pray."

Notes:

"Nakba" or Day of Catastrophe is how Palestinians refer to their experiences of expulsion in the 1948 war ↩
Filed Under: Blog, Peacemaking

popular recent storiesAlso in the news

Image: 20190525_151816
WMC: Tue 25 Jun 10:00am

As we walked the last 118 kilometres of the Camino de Santiago from Sarria during the May half term holiday, the phrase "Buen Camino" (translating as 'have a good journey' or 'have a good Camino') could be heard all around us. We said it to those we passed and others greeted us in a similar fashion.The Camino de Santiago known as the Way of Saint James, is a network of...

Image: 20190616_074854
WMC: Mon 17 Jun 7:00pm

Keith's London to Brighton bike ride for the British Heart FoundationA 5:30am departure from Wantage saw us arrive at Clapham Common in good time for my 8:00am start. From 6:00am onwards, just over 15,000 riders were taking part in this iconic event on Sunday 16th June, being sent on their way every half an hour.Liz, Amy and Becca cheered me and Deji, a long standing friend from Essex, on...

THEOLOGY OF LONELINESS
WMC: Sat 15 Jun 3:00pm

A short theological reflection from Deacon Selina Nisbett."It is not good for man to be alone. Hitherto all things in Genesis that have been named, were approved of God to be very good: loneliness is the first thing which God's eye named not good." wrote John Milton in 1645, at a time of great personal loneliness.However we approach the book of Genesis theologically, the...