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Dear Reba Community,

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

I'm sure that all our hearts are breaking for the most recent multiplication of violence in Israel and Palestine since Saturday, October 7, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel. By now, according to CBS news, more than 1,200 lives in Israel are lost, and at least 1,100 people killed in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, with more than 5,339 wounded there as well. The layers of trauma in the Palestine-Israel conflict make it nearly impossible to express empathy for anyone's harm without being accused by the other side of contributing to the situation that made the atrocities happen. Nevertheless, I personally feel clear about two things, and I invite us all to be praying around these themes, and as the Holy Spirit guides you in the days to come: Violence was not, and is not, the way of Jesus. Come Holy Spirit, and pour out courage and wisdom on all those in harm's way and all those who may bring harm -- break the power of fear and terror and vengeance poisoning their hearts. We pray for your intervention, Holy One, to reduce the violence -- by weather that slows it down, mechanical issues that impede firing, by awakening of love and conscience on the part of soldiers and commanders. Having suffered trauma doesn't justify harming innocent people. Jesus, we pray for the safety and healing of all Jews who have suffered and continue to suffer the violence of anti-Semitism in any of its emotional, spiritual, or physical dimensions. We acknowledge and continue to grieve the horror of the Holocaust and the ongoing presence of anti-Jewish violence around the world. We stand in lament for that pain and repentance for Christians' historic contribution to it. Jesus, we pray for the safety and healing of all Palestinians who have suffered, and continue to suffer, violence and injustice at the hands of the Israeli government, army and settlers. We mourn for those displaced from their homes in 1948, and never allowed to return. We mourn for the residents of Gaza, under siege since 2007. God we pray that those who have the capacity to work for a just and sustainable peace for all will be the ones whose voices are heard most clearly. We ask that you would silence those who would use this situation to aggravate and distort reality, only seeing history from one perspective. Let us pray and pay attention to where the Spirit calls us to act. In grief, Pastor Charlotte Mennonite Church USA offers the following resources to inform your response to the Palestine-Israel conflict:

  • Mennonite World Conference | A pastoral letter for peace in the Holy Land | Read more.

  • MennoPIN | Monthly update, featuring an analysis by Jonathan Kuttab, MC USA Bring the Peace honoree, a prayer from Sabeel and a list of other informative websites | Read more.

  • Mennonite Central Committee | Stories about MCC’s work and ways to engage | Read more.

  • MC USA | “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine” (2017 Resolution) | Read more.

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