Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Day of Peace

by Fred & Gloria Strickert

September 21 is marked on our kitchen calendar as the International Day of Peace.

Outside the United Nations is the peace bell, constructed in 1954 from coins donated by children from throughout the world. For the last 30 years this bell has been rung on this day in hope that today's children may see a world less damaged by the hatred and war of past and present.

It may well be that the sound of the bell will be drowned out this week by all clamor surrounding the proposal to the United Nations for Palestinian statehood debating whether this action is an appeal for peace or a declaration of war, whether it demonstrates the value of the world community coming together or whether this action is indeed "unilateral," whether the preferred way is that of non-violence or once again of reliance on the strength of weapons, and most of all whether the future of Middle East children should still be held hostage to political purposes and promises. 

"Pray without ceasing," says Paul.

We therefore submit to you a Prayer for Peace written earlier this summer by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem:

 Isaiah 2:1-5; 11:9
“In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of themountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it….”
“They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of theknowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea….”

Almighty and Merciful God, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, you gathered the first Christians inJerusalem. Grant that, like the first church of Jerusalem, we may come together, and withcourage, we may preach and live the Word, and the good news of truth, reconciliation, andpeace.

God Creator, Giver of Life, Bearer of Pain, Initiator of Love, you made the world andeverything in it. You created the human race in your image and likeness, and gave us the earthfor all to share. Break down the walls that separate us.

God of Justice, your generosity is without bounds. Guard us from selfishness; inspire us to beinstruments of love, and witnesses of your mercy and justice. Help us to face challenges and tostruggle against all that is born of injustice. Lead us to act together in places and situations ofwant and need: where families are driven from their homes, where the vulnerable suffer in thehands of the powerful, where poverty and unemployment destroy lives.

God of Hope, you continue to call us to work for Peace in our world, broken and wounded byinjustice, violence, and indifference. Alone, we are overwhelmed by challenges but together,and inspired by your Spirit, we can prevail beyond dreams and imagination. In fear we losehope, and feel the futility of our efforts. Instill in our hearts and minds the image of yoursuffering and compassionate love as a source of courage and strength.

God, Protector of the widow, the orphan and the stranger, in a world where many know despair,you raised your Son Jesus Christ to give hope for humanity and renewal to the earth. Strengthenand unify your Church against the forces of evil in this part of the world, where aggression of allforms, killings and the blood of martyrs shed even in places of worship, obscure the hope of anew life.

God of Peace and Mercy, inspire nations to transform oppression and violence into freedomand peace for the sake of the poor, the vulnerable and the broken-hearted. Help us to respect andpromote the equality and dignity of all, particularly in your Holy Land. Grant discernment toleaders and legislators, that righteousness and truth may flourish among all peoples throughoutthe world.

God our Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, who taught us to yearn through prayerfor the coming of your Kingdom. You are able to accept in us what we cannot acknowledge; toname in us what we cannot bear to speak of; to hold in your memory what we tried to forget.

Teach us to pray together to resist the evil and oppression by our non-violent actions and love forone another. May your Son’s earthly life be the model for our own, as we recognize yourpresence and guidance through all our joys and tribulations.

We pray these in the name of the Risen Lord, and in the power of His Spirit. Amen.

 Heads of Churches in Jerusalem
Statement Concerning
Upcoming Palestinian UN Statehood Bid

Looking toward the upcoming Palestinian UN Statehood Bid, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem released a statement last week (Sept. 12). We invite you to read the statement below:
Looking ahead to the upcoming General Assembly of the United Nations in this September 2011 and the bid for Palestinian statehood, the Heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem feel the need to intensify the prayers and diplomatic efforts for peace between Palestinians and Israelis, see this as the most appropriate time for such an opportunity, and thus wish to reiterate the following principles upon which we agree: 
  • A two-state solution serves the cause of peace and justice
  • Israelis and Palestinians must live each in their own independent states with peace, security and justice, respecting human rights, according to international law.
  • Negotiations are the best way to resolve all outstanding problems between the two sides.
  • Palestinians and Israelis should exercise restraint, whatever the outcome of the vote at the United Nations.
  • Jerusalem is a Holy City to the followers of all three Abrahamic faiths, in which all people should be able to live in peace and tranquility, a city to be shared by the two peoples and the three faiths.  
Thus, we call upon decision makers and people of good will, to do their utmost to achieve the long awaited justice, peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians so that the prophecy of Prophet David is lived again:
"Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.”
(Ps. 85: 10)
From Fred & Gloria Strickert