Israel Gaza Conflict

He shall judge between many peoples and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.”
(Micah 4:3-4 NRSV)
Dear Lord of Life,
For more than a week now, we have watched as violence has erupted through Israel and Gaza. Just over 5 months ago, I walked the streets of this region: through the “Muslim Quarter” of the Old City of Jerusalem; into Christian Churches all over the region; into Bethlehem to the Christian Church of the Nativity in a community of Palestinians, surrounded by a wall built by Israel. We were not in Gaza, yet the news coming from recent events has an alarming familiarity.
The reports we hear on the news and the perspectives thrown at us by our neighbors rarely do justice to the complexities of the region or of the people who live there. There are good and faithful Palestinians who wish to live in peace and find safety and health for their families. There are Palestinian Christians trapped in a system that denies them basic human existence. There are Israeli citizens who denounce their government’s actions. There are many voices trying to plead for a halting of violence and an opportunity for them to live.
The terror organization of Hamas committed a violent attack. Israel is still carrying out violent retaliation. This land that we describe as “The Holy Land” is being blown apart and flooded with innocent blood by those who would claim it as sacred – Christians included. I do not claim to have a full understanding of the complexities, or the history involved. Instead, I claim to be a follower of Jesus. When faced with events such as these I find myself drawn back to his teachings: “Turn the other cheek;” “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you;” and “blessed are the peacemakers.” I don’t pretend that this would be an easy path for a nation to try and follow. As followers of Jesus, however, I believe our path should be less concerned with choosing a side and more concerned with protecting the innocent and, as far as it is within our power, striving for peace.
I don’t have an answer to the problem. I don’t have a magic sauce for a diplomatic solution. All I have is prayer and 500 years’ worth of Lutheran tradition to try and stand in the tension of the gray area. We are both saint and sinner, dead and alive, enslaved and set free. As such, my prayers continue to be for the safety of innocent civilians regardless of which side of a wall they live on. My prayer is for peace that allows all people to experience life. My prayer is for terror organizations like Hamas and military strongholds like Israel to put down their weapons that they might turn swords into plowshares and sit under their own vine and fig tree – never again to be afraid. My prayer is that God’s kingdom would reign in our hearts and on this earth – a kingdom that comes through a renewal of our very selves and not through military might.
Thank you for joining me in this prayer and for being willing to stand in the tension and look for Jesus.
God loves each of you and I do too,
Pastor David
If you or anyone in your life needs a place to process or discuss these incredibly challenging issues, please know that I, and the entire staff at Lord of Life, are here for you.
Call us. 281-367-7016
Do whatever you have to.
But always remember that we do not need to walk these roads alone. We are here for one another.