Greetings from the Land of the Holy One

from the recent newsletter of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem . . .

During this month, the drums of war seemed to beat louder than usual. The majority of people throughout the Middle East prayed that the impending military intervention into Syria would not come to pass. Our prayers for peace were joined with men and women of goodwill from around the world and I am grateful to Almighty God that military intervention did not take place. As sons and daughters of the Middle East, we know in the most painful way that the outcome of such interventions brings only increased chaos and suffering for the whole region. Of course, we denounce the use of chemical weapons by any party, but violence simply breeds violence. The Land of the Holy One and the entire region cries out for peace with justice. We are grateful for the diplomatic efforts that have begun and pray that with their success will come greater peace and stability for Syria, the Middle East, and the whole world.  ~ Bishop Suheil Dawani

The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem covers more ground than it’s name implies: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine. I think it’s important for Christians to be aware of the experiences and thoughts of our sisters and brothers in the Middle East. They face tremendous difficulty. We can listen to their concerns and support them in prayer.

I’ll attach a PDF of the complete newsletter here.

Right now we Americans are pretty focused on our internal politics. The government is in shutdown and Congress is playing games that make us doubt whether democracy is quite the viable system we pretend it to be.

But not long ago we were all focused on the civil war in Syria, and whether the US should make some kind of military strike against that country to protest it’s use of chemical weapons on its own civilians.

At that time I made an internet visit to the leaders at this diocese to hear their opinion.  When they opposed an intervention in Syria, I took that seriously. It’s easy for us, on this side of the ocean, to get lost in ideas and ideals rather than reality. In fact, I would suggest that Americans are particularly prone to this affliction. I was grateful for the ability to hear from these leaders in the Middle East, or as they put it “the Land of the Holy One.” I appreciate that usage of the word land, for I find their words to be very grounding.

Even if you’re not Episcopalian (as I am not), I urge you to become aware of the work of this diocese. My acquaintance began in 2005 when I took the “Palestine of Jesus” tour hosted by St. George’s College.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.” For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.  ~ Psalm 122:6-9

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I'm an essayist, memoirist, and Presbyterian pastor. My books are both spiritual memoirs -- "Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land" and "Ruined."