I remember at the beginning of last year coming across a poem by Ann Weems called 'I no longer pray for peace'. The opening and closing lines were, "I no longer pray for peace. I pray for miracles."
The escalation of violence between Hamas, who have a base in Gaza, and Israel has been horrific and cannot be condoned. It has brought unimaginable suffering to both Israelis and Palestinians. The whole region, throughout known history, has always had a complex and usually contested, political, theological, religious, historical, social and cultural dynamic. Sadly, the way that this has been dealt with, more often than not, has been through using force and oppression in various forms or interference (well intentioned or not) by outside powers. Two traumatised peoples, trying to secure a place to call their own. And yet again, it is those who are just trying to live their lives who are paying the price. I no longer pray for peace. I pray for miracles.
As the rhetoric heats up, trying to make an extremely complex and volatile situation into a basic 'them or us' choice, what can we do? Of course the simple answer is pray. Some may have contacted their MP to stress the need to seek peace – a peace that brings hope for all. Others may even know individuals who have been involved in or impacted by these events and are reaching out to them.
Here are some lines from another poem by Ann Weems. It's called Prayer for the Peace Seekers.
"Come, O Holy God, come and save your world!
Pull your Church into its pulpits to preach your Word of Peace!
Pull your People onto the rooftops to sing the Song of Peace!
Give us new voices. O God!
Give us new songs!
Give us new hearts for one another, for all the one anothers!!
Give us new Hope!
Give us new Life!
O God, send Angels!
" Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you."
We may not be able to directly influence events thousands of miles away but we can encourage and empower each other, through Christ. And together as the Body of Christ we can attempt to model a more peaceful way.