Prayer in a time of ongoing atrocities

Today, I return to a brief writing on this blog so as to bring the reader’s attention to the ongoing deplorable and heart wrenching situation of injustice in the West Bank.

 

This past Saturday, residents of the northern West Bank village of Yanoun were attacked by settlers while out with their sheep.  3 sheep were killed, crops were burned, olive trees were burned, and 6 people were injured, 5 of whom required hospitalization.   During this attack, the Israeli army protected the attacking settlers.  For more information, please refer to a Mondoweiss article found at http://mondoweiss.net/2012/07/pogrom-in-yanoun-settlers-kill-3-sheep-torch-fields-club-and-stab-villagers-leave-one-bound-in-a-field-overnight.html.

 

Canadian Jim Cairney is currently representing the United Church of Canada while serving EAPPI in Yanoun.  His blog can be found at http://inahotandthinplace.wordpress.com/

 

In the South Hebron Hills (where I lived and served for 3 months with EAPPI last fall), the villages of Wadi J’Hesh and Susiya face imminent demolition at the hands of the Israeli Army.  The Israeli rationale for demolishing the many structures of these villages is that they were built without Israeli permits, permits that statistically have been granted over the last several years to less than 5% of Palestinian applicants living in Area C of the West Bank.  Unable to obtain permits, residents build their residential tents, animal care structures and community use structures (cooking facilities, toilets, community centre tents, water cisterns, etc) as required for survival.  For more on this story, please read an AP article found at

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/palestinian-village-faces-demolition-israel-224334826.html.

 

These are only two of the many ongoing incidences that the Palestinian people endure on a regular basis as a result of the systematic oppression and settler violence brought about by this Occupation.

 

In response to the ongoing suffering brought by this illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, a prayer vigil was held Saturday, June 23, 2012 in the sanctuary of Knox United Church, Clearwater, Manitoba.  While 10 people gathered in our small rural Canadian church to pray, we were joined in prayer by many others across Canada and around the world.  Prayers were offered for all those affected by the Israeli military occupation of Palestine (Israeli’s, Palestinians and internationals), with special concern for the residents of the South Hebron Hills villages of Wadi J’Hesh and Susiya.

 

Here are the prayers that were offered that day:

 

Almighty and eternal God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we give thanks for your presence.  You are our refuge in this troubled world.

 

In the birth of your son Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, you became one of us, sharing and understanding our humanity, our suffering and our problems.

 

We thank you that you took refuge in Egypt, identifying yourself with all who are refugees and victims of political power.

 

We thank you that you were crucified in Jerusalem, identifying yourself with every person who suffers and lives under occupation and injustice.

 

Loving God, we come before you now with all the troubles and pains experienced by your people in the Middle East.

 

We pray for all the victims of injustice and violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.   We pray for the people of Gaza and the West Bank who face daily injustice, hardship and cruelty.  We pray for those who have experienced recent demolition of their homes and community buildings, and for those whose villages are at imminent risk of demolition.  In particular, today we pray for the people of Susiya and Wadi J’Hesh.  Give them courage to walk through these difficult days, and maintain in them a continued commitment to the principles and practice of non- violent resistance, even in the face of violence towards themselves.

 

As we pray for the residents of Susiya and Wadi J’Hesh, we pray also for the residents of other Palestinian villages throughout the South Hebron Hills and the entire West Bank who are facing significant demolition orders against their villages. Grant them the peace of knowing that whatever happens, you are with them.  That the words “Allah Kareeem, God is generous and will see us through this”, may offer strength and sustenance in this time of trial.

 

We pray for the people of these villages, people like all of us.  Mothers, fathers, children, aunts, uncles, friends.  Ordinary folk….  Rural people who provide care for their sheep, their goats and their chickens.  Farmers who tend to their crops.  Children with school classes and homework.  People  – each one of them with hearts and faces and dreams.

 

We pray also for those who are responsible for injustices and all forms of violence.   We pray for political and military leaders, and we pray for the young Israeli soldiers who, in following military orders, are required to participate as perpetrators in these horrific demolitions.

 

We pray for the Israeli settlers, that they might open their hearts to the ways of justice and peace with their neighbours.

 

We pray for the Israeli activists who work steadfastly towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict.  Guide them as they share their desire and quest for peace with their fellow citizens.

 

We pray for the many internationals who work towards a just peace in this Holy Land, a just peace for both peoples.

 

We pray for the Israeli government and the Israeli people,  that they may turn from this illegal military occupation and work towards a genuine peace with their Palestinian neighbours.

 

We pray that the Palestinian people will be open to working with the Israeli people towards a just peace for both.

 

We pray that fear on both sides may be overcome by trust and a mutual desire for the true well- being of each another.

 

We pray that all involved may come to a place of respect and honour for the human dignity of one another.  That each may recognize their shared humanity with the other, and their shared place within Creation.

 

We pray that you will open the eyes of the world towards justice and reconciliation in this place of conflict.  Help us all to see that the security and freedom of one people is dependent upon the security and freedom of the other.

 

We pray for politicians around the world, but especially in Israel and Palestine, that they may realize that the security and peace we all long for will not come by the use of arms and force, but by living a mutual path of justice so that the two peoples together can work towards an equitable and peaceable shared future.

 

We give thanks today for those from around the world who are praying with us now as we pray,  offering with us prayers for all those affected by the military occupation of Palestine, with special concern for the people of the South Hebron Hills villages of Wadi J’Hesh and Susiya.   For those known to us, and for those unknown, we offer thanks as together we raise our prayers to you, O Holy One.

 

Holy Spirit, giver of life and new beginnings, help us to faithfully respond to God’s call to open ourselves to the pains of injustice of people wherever they may be, and to stand in solidarity with those who are hurting. May we, with our sisters and brothers around the world, open our hearts and confess our part in past injustices and find ways to build a just and secure future for all. Give us wisdom and courage in this difficult task.  And when the pressures of the situation leave us in despair, come with your Light to show us the way and to renew our strength and hope.

 

We ask these, and all our prayers, in the name of Jesus, the Christ,   Amen.

 

 

We invite you to join with us as we continue to pray, today including the people of Yanoun in our prayers.

 

Peace, Salaam, Shalom,

 

Jan

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One response

  1. I returned home yesterday after a wonderful week-end on a sheep farm in Namibia. The landscape and the activities reminded me so much of the day to day lives of the families in Yanoun….and then I got the terrible news on my return. We do indeed act, and make a difference, by praying and by spreading the word. Thanks Jan.

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