Monday, November 26, 2012



                     Gaza homemade rocket                                                        Israeli tank in recent conflict, ~1500 rounds launched by each side    
This Thanksgiving Nov. 22 the people of the Middle East, and all of us worldwide, had something to be particularly thankful for – Israel and the Palestinians of Gaza did not go to full-scale war.  The Israelis did not invade, and halted its air assassination campaign; Hamas stopped its rocket launches, an uneasy truce holds.   Thank God, and God forgive us all -- 169 Palestinians dead, and 6 Israelis.*  We don’t know where this will go next, but we know it’s very difficult to follow the divine admonition—“harden not your hearts.”
Our country has a tradition of arming the Israelis to the teeth.  Others arm the Palestinians.  From our distance the blood spilled on Holy Land sand hasn’t trickled down to melt many hearts dedicated to war.  Over there it’s almost humanly impossible to overcome the hatreds conflict can engender.  How to rebuild trust in its place?  I believe it’s a matter of special grace, that needs prayer and repeated attempts at forgiveness and reunion.
This is not just a global problem but a personal one.  Here at our house we made some efforts to welcome and prepare for arrival of seven members of our family who’d been living far away, and felt pressed to make the move back to Michigan, before things could be arranged for a proper place to stay.  After a long journey, they made it into town with all their possessions, after dark, the night before Thanksgiving.  Emotions frazzled and minor disaster ensued.  No one is happy with where everyone ended up.
e could have done more to make clearer the contingencies, and more to help.  They could have had more foresight, and patience.  It will be hard to resolve these conflicts and assist in arranging a permanent living space for them, especially after angry words have imprinted their sad sting.  But we all believe in this mutual forgiveness, and a better tomorrow, despite today’s wounded reality.   God, grant us the courage and inspiration to find your way to heal and forgive, from our doorstep, to the world’s battlefields.

Lord have mercy on our souls--too accepting of the violence and injustice that, instead of you, we often choose to give us our daily bread.

11-25-12 USA Today, Gaza cleric calls violation of Israel truce sinful” -- excerpt below
The fatwa, or religious edict, was issued late Saturday by Suleiman al-Daya, a cleric respected by both ultra-conservative Salafis and Hamas. Salafi groups oppose political accommodations with Israel.
"Honoring the truce, which was sponsored by our Egyptian brethren, is the duty of each and every one of us. Violating it shall constitute a sin," the fatwa read. ... The fighting killed 169 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, and six Israelis.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney

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