Praying for Palestinian Justice

The Wave of Prayer ministry enables local and international friends of Sabeel to pray over regional concerns on a weekly basis. Sent to Sabeel’s network of supporters, the prayer is used in services around the world and during Sabeel’s Thursday Communion service; as each community in its respective time zone lifts these concerns in prayer at noon every Thursday, this ‘wave of prayer’ washes over the world.
 
Sabeel Wave of Prayer – Thursday 31st May 2018
During the ninth consecutive week of the ‘Great March of Return’ more than 100 Palestinians, including seven children were wounded by Israeli snipers along the border in Gaza. There is a desperate shortage of drugs and medication for the treatment of the wounded in Gaza as a result of the ten year Israeli blockade.
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Lord, we continue to pray for the safety of the Palestinian protesters and their commitment to non-violence. Dear God, we pray that those who have been injured in the protest may soon recover and that the families who are grieving for their loved ones may find solace.
Lord in your mercy . . . Hear our prayer.
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The Israeli Knesset has proposed a new bill which would make it a criminal act to film or photograph an Israeli soldier on active duty. The bill is supported by the right-wing Israeli Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and if passed, those found in violation of the law could face a prison sentence of up to five years. Palestinian journalists view the law as an attempt by the Israeli government to ‘escape punishment and international justice’.
Lord, we pray for the safety of all people who risk their lives to document the human rights violations of the powerful. We pray that journalists may still be able to report the truth of all they witness in the occupied territories.
Lord in your mercy . . .
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Last Friday, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a petition from six human rights groups to declare that ‘the Israeli military’s regulations that allow soldiers to open fire at unarmed civilians is unlawful’.
Lord, we continue to depend on your mercy and justice as Israel validates the use of violence against Palestinians through legislative means. We pray for the protection of those who exercise their right to protest against the occupation.
Lord in your mercy . . .
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On Thursday, Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Defence Minister, said in a statement that he plans to seek approval for the construction of 2,500 Israeli settler homes in the occupied West Bank.
Lord, the Israeli government continues to demolish the homes of Palestinians and ruin their crops as well as appropriating their land to build illegal settlements for Israelis. We pray that the international community would undertake to hold the Israeli government to account for flouting international law. We ask that due process would be brought to bear on any attempts to colonize the West Bank.
Lord in your mercy . . .
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Last Sunday, May 20th, the Palestinian residents of the village of al-Aqaba received demolition orders from the Israeli forces. They were informed that twenty homes would be demolished within a period of sixty days as they were alleged to have been built without the requisite Israeli construction permits.
Over the weekend, Israeli settlers raided Palestinian vineyards in the Hebron area and used electric saws to cut down over 1700 vines. The settlers also spray-painted threats on the walls around the vineyards.
Lord, Palestinians continue to fall victim to the policies of the Israeli army and politicians. We pray for the safety of Palestinian villages and for renewed strength for the farmers who have lost their vines just months before the grape-harvest. Have mercy on the Palestinian people Lord, as they grow weary.
Lord in you mercy . . .
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Three toddlers were found dead in the Palestinian town of Bethany east of Jerusalem. Initial investigation by the police shows that the three children, two sisters and a friend, trapped themselves in an abandoned car while playing and died as a result of suffocation during a heat wave.
Lord, we pray for the families of Youssef, Raneem and Rahaf as they mourn the deaths of their beloved children and ask that they would find comfort in their grief.
Lord in your mercy . . .
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A Palestinian teenager died on Wednesday after succumbing to wounds sustained during protests in Ramallah.  Adi Abu Khalil was only fifteen years old when shot in the stomach by an Israeli soldier last week.
Lord, the Israeli occupation continues to target Palestinian children and teenagers. We pray for your spirit to comfort the family of Adi as they grieve for their loss. We pray that soldiers firing live ammunition at children would, one day, be held accountable for their action.
Lord in your mercy . . .
A Palestinian’s Plea to the British Prime Minister

A Palestinian’s Plea to the British Prime Minister

Palestinian theologian and pastor the Rev Alex Awad has been mentioned on this blog before.  I met him once a few years ago and he signed a book for me he had written that recounted the terrible events of the 1948 al-nakba through the lens of his own family…the book is a fantastic resource for a way in to understanding the Israeli-Palestinian ‘conflict’.

Alex has written an open letter to the British Prime Minister Theresa May and I am taking the liberty to post it here:

The Honorable Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom:
 
I am a Palestinian who was born in Jerusalem in 1946 during the British Mandate over Palestine. During the first Arab-Israeli war in May 1948 I was two years old. My father, a civilian, was shot and killed in crossfire between the Zionist Haganah militias and the Jordanian army, leaving my mother to care for seven children. The oldest of my siblings was eleven and the youngest six months old. Soon after the death of my father, our neighborhood was taken over by the Israelis and we fled, becoming refugees. As I grew up, I began to ask questions about why my father was killed, what caused the Israel/Palestine conflict and what triggered all the suffering of millions of Palestinians and Jews in the last 100 years.
 
In time, I learned about the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate over Palestine. I discovered that in 1917, the British Foreign Secretary sent a letter, later called the Balfour Declaration, to Lord Rothschild and Zionist leaders, promising to support the creation of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. After WWI, against the objections of my people, the British government colonized Palestine and made it possible for the Zionist movement to take over our homeland.
 
Your Honor, there is no way that your country can undo the tragic history of the last 100 years. All the wealth of Great Britain can’t compensate me and my fellow compatriots for the death, injury, loss of land and enormous suffering that came upon us and continue to bring pain to us due to the Balfour Declaration and other oppressive policies of your predecessors. I look back to the past only to remind you of the grave injustices that my people and I have endured, due partly to the United Kingdom’s past policies. I seek no apologies and no compensations. And as a Palestinian Christian, I offer you and the British people total pardon.
 
As I look to the future, I believe that your government can help to end to the Israel/Palestine conflict and bury the memory of the Balfour Declaration, and I call on you to have the courage and determination to do so.
 
Britain was among the first in creating this tragic conflict but shouldn’t be the last in taking positive steps to resolve it.
 
This year, which marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, your government can help Israelis and Palestinians begin to find the path to a just and genuine reconciliation.
Let 2017 be the year that Britain conducts its policy for Israel and Palestine independently of the influence and dictates of the United States.
 
A first step would be for Britain to recognize an independent Palestinian State in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Once your government takes this courageous act, many reluctant European countries would be encouraged to follow suit. Already 138 countries including the Holy See recognize Palestinian statehood.
 
Your contribution to ending the Israel/Palestine conflict would not only save Israeli and Palestinian lives but could also usher in an era of peace and help to end bloody conflicts and acts of violence elsewhere in the Middle East and throughout the world.
 
Prime Minister, let Great Britain lead the way to peace under your brave and wise guidance.
 
Sincerely,
 
Rev. Dr. Alex Awad
Author, pastor, and retired missionary of the United Methodist Church
 
Alex Awad was born in Palestine and served there for decades as a missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. Awad was the pastor of an international congregation at East Jerusalem Baptist Church, served as Professor, Dean of Students and Director of the Shepherd Society at Bethlehem Bible College, and is the author of two books: Palestinian Memories: The Story of a Palestinian Mother and Her People and Through the Eyes of the Victims: The Story of The Arab-Israeli Conflict.
An eternal tormentist, annihilationist and universalist walk into a pub…

An eternal tormentist, annihilationist and universalist walk into a pub…

What follows is part of a wider response to various questions that theologian Rob Knowles has responded to.  Here, after writing a thorough response and critique of C. S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, to which the opening of the article below refers, Rob proceeds to outline the actual biblical view(s) of what is associated with biblical notions of judgment and hell.

This debate suffers from the worst kinds of crappy-Christian polemics, historical amnesia and hermeneutical foreclosure, and dare I say, the real possibility that many Christians are going to be really cheesed off if God does indeed save everyone! Similarly, if God does or will save everyone, would that constitute what my brother refers to as ‘a pleasant hostage situation’?

If someone of the scholarly stature of A. C. Thiselton can confidently and unashamedly assert that within the Bible there exists three contradictory traditions, the interpreting community that is the Church had best sit up and pay proper theological attention!  At the very least, this would make an interesting discussion actually worth listening too, if our three traditions named in my title ever got into that pub!

Anyway, enjoy.  Cheers….

gbbf-glass

How could hell be just?
I have already said a lot on this question in my earlier theodicy on “the problem of evil”. There I offered a highly modified version of C.S. Lewis’s theodicy in his book, The Problem of Pain (see above). The theodicy went into some detail on the question of hell, and broadly rejected C.S. Lewis’ thinking on the matter in favour of A.C. Thiselton’s view, which we might call the “deliberate ambiguity” approach to hell. Lewis’s theodicy, in my view, was at its strongest in describing how, given that God had decided to create “persons” with (at least some measure of free will), then this was impossible without (a) some kind of neutral background – creation or “nature”, and (b) the possibility of us deciding to do wrong. These two factors explained 80% of the suffering in the world: that is, when it comes to the question: “why is there so much suffering in the world?” our answer is – roughly speaking – about 80% in agreement with the atheists. They say: there is no God; there is suffering; so humankind must have caused the suffering. We 80% agree that humankind must have caused the suffering – with the qualification that demonic influence on humanity also has to be accounted for.


The main exception to this was (c) what Lewis referred to as remedial suffering – suffering associated with God’s disciplining intervention into our lives, and with our going “cold turkey” on sins once we had decided to follow God – a “cold turkey” experience that Lewis, rightly, likened to crucifixion, since Paul speaks of the crucifixion of the sinful nature in the Christian.


In my view, though, Lewis’s theodicy was at its weakest in its depiction of God as being less than able to fully resolve the problem of human sin – as though the Almighty God was threatened by sin, and could only partially guarantee a partial salvation that heavily depended on our co-operation and works. The effect was to leave the reader exhausted, thinking that his or her works could be the deciding factor in his or her salvation.
To my mind, this view, whilst rightly stressing human responsibility, fails to present the biblical picture of God’s sovereignty. Yes, God is the crucified God, who suffers with us in weakness. And, for God as a man in Jesus Christ, nobody can under-estimate the suffering of the cross, and the difficulty God faced at that point, given the parameters that he had placed upon himself.

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Clown Europe

Sea

Call them what you want,

Asylum seeker, migrant, refugee;

But see, a face that looks like me.

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Watch them flee from land and sea,

Shining out from our latest HD TV.

Packed in boats and rafts;

Longing for half a chance.

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Despising even the rank air they breathe.

No room to move or sit,

No food to eat no drink to drink;

While Europe waits and chats and thinks.

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They want to live and work and play,

To see a new day, as the sun goes higher;

Just trying to live that’s all, beyond the dire,

But is this necessary, brand-new razor-sharp wire?

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And they’re the lucky one’s,

For too many drown,

In the not too funny sea,

While Europe looks on, like a clown.

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We all know this world is unequal,

Too few have had too much for too long.

“Fortresses of wealth in many seas of mass misery,”

No act of God, but acts of man,

A kind of perverse and sinful symmetry.

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It is time to wake up, look up and see,

These are not asylum seekers, migrants or refugees;

But a stunning and worthy humanity. . . . seeking dignity.

Look closely:  they are all just like you, and just like me.

Apartheid: any system or practice that separates people according to color, ethnicity, caste, etc.

tshirt“Jimmy Carter, the former president of the USA and member of the group of elders published a book called Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. This brought into the mainstream something that was known to people close to Palestine and Israel for a while. Palestinian Christians and Muslims are living as second class citizens under an apartheid regime. Here are some examples:

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