Message from Bishop Lucinda on the attacks between Hamas and Israel
“O day of peace, that dimly shines, through all our hopes and prayers and dreams,
guide us to justice, truth and love, delivered from our selfish schemes.
May swords of hate fall from our hands, our hearts from envy find release,
till by God’s grace our warring world shall see Christ’s promised reign of peace.”
Dear Beloved of El Camino Real,
Probably like me, you have been horrified by the sudden attacks between Hamas and Israel that have left scores dead, destabilized a region and brought terror to an already fearful situation. The history of violence between Israel and Palestine is layered and complex, and we must acknowledge that there is a very real danger that this conflict could easily become a regional conflict and a much bigger war.
While many likely have well-researched information and firmly held opinions about this war, we know that as followers of Jesus, we must stand with the Prince of Peace and walk the Way of Love. This means that no matter our political opinions, we are called to tend to those affected by the violence —to those who are hungry, hurt, thirsty, and have no safe place to sleep. We are called to protect civilians and innocent people and stand where Jesus stood.
Our baptismal covenant calls us to respect the dignity of every human being, and that is our reminder that words and actions are both weapons that can be used to dehumanize people. As Christians, we know that all human life is sacred, and we cannot forget that all involved, all who suffer, all who die, are someone’s child, spouse, parent, or grandparent. As followers of Jesus, we believe it is wrong to use innocent people as human shields or to target civilians in any location.
Right now, many are asking, “How can we help?” The Diocese of Jerusalem, which is the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East serves five countries: Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Archbishop Naoum and his staff are at the forefront of this conflict, with two of those five countries actively at war. This diocese works tirelessly to stand in the place of peace and to promote reconciliation. With the destruction, loss of life, and displaced peoples, they will be called upon, more than ever before, to provide for the basics of life.
Archbishop Naoum reported today that his staff is currently working to house displaced persons in Episcopal Schools in Ramallah, which will then become emergency shelters for refugees coming out of Gaza can donate to this work through the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem AFEDJ.org. The need is current and will be ongoing, and Archbishop Naoum and his staff are the best equipped to identify those needs and move resources to places where aid needs to be provided.
Whatever prayer for peace you say or hold near your heart, I ask that these prayers be lifted and that the love of the Risen One guide our every word and action as we tend to a world in turmoil.
The Right Rev. Lucinda Ashby