"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." ~ Matthew 5:43-44
"With God all things are possible" ~ Matthew 19:26
While I am writing this the killing, rockets and bombs between Israel and Gaza have temporarily stopped and there is hope that both parties will reach a more lasting cease-fire soon. While I give thanks for the end of this latest war which resulted in over 1800 Palestinian deaths (85% were civilians) and over 65 Israeli deaths (64 were soldiers) as well as thousands injured, homeless and traumatized, I know that this is not peace, but merely a pause in a cycle of violence which goes back to 2006 (between Gaza and Israel) and even back to the 1930 and the end of World War I. Yet, I believe peace is possible.
I am confident that there will be no true peace between Israel and the Palestinians without reconciliation. The two peoples are too intertwined culturally, historically and geographically - they are inseparable, and yet there can be no reconciliation without liberation: Liberation form fear, liberation from occupation, liberation from despair and hopelessness for Israelis and Palestinians.
What can we do to be agents of liberation and reconciliation? How can we become the peacemakers and children of God? We begin by seeing Israelis and Palestinians as brothers and sisters, by valuing each and every human life, and by declaring that the killing of innocents is always unacceptable. We need reject fear and ideology which moved us to demonize a particular religion, culture or people and we need reject the notion of victimhood that promotes fear and preaches security over humanity. We begin at home by challenging those off-hand comments that demonize Israelis (or Jews) or Palestinians (or Arabs or Muslims) by oversimplifying the conflict or justifying the deaths of innocents. We look deeper into the obstacles to peace and seek to overcome them by engaging with our elected representatives and on-the-ground mission partners (Faye and John Buttrick). We never lose hope.
We need to have hope: hope for justice in which Israelis and Palestinians can life self-determined lives free of occupation and the fear of violence. Hope for liberation from victimhood, oppression and the illusion of violent security and retribution. Hope for a deep and abiding peace in the sure knowledge that with God all things are possible.
~ Pastor Eric