Bishop Ward asks for prayers for all the people living in the troubled lands of Israel and Palestine – the place where Jesus was born, spent his life and engaged his ministry.
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
This week, I am in Palestine and Israel with a group of 45 pilgrims from the North Carolina Annual Conference. Together, we are engaging in the current realities of this troubled land, even as we learn about the biblical stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs, and prophets and priests, and of course, about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
We began our journey in Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus, and even as we stand on the hillside where the shepherds heard the angels sing and go to the Church of the Nativity, the oldest Christian church, the place believed to be the very birthplace of Jesus, we are aware of the harsh and difficult realities in this land.
The city of Bethlehem, Jesus’ birth, is surrounded by a separation wall. The tour bus drives out of that wall as we leave Bethlehem and travel toward Nazareth, the place of Jesus’ boyhood.
In this land that we all study in our Sunday school classes and Bible study groups, there is great tension and trouble, so I invite your continued prayers for the people who live on all sides of the harsh conflict. For Jewish people who remember the Holocaust and the founding of the nation of Israel, to be a place of hope, and for the Palestinian people who continue to lose their land to settlements and who look back on 1948 and the founding of Israel as the great tragedy because their ancestral land was taken for the formation of Israel.
There certainly are no easy answers, but we, as God’s people, are called to continue to engage toward hopeful solutions, peaceful futures, for all God’s people. Today we for pray for shalom, salaam, peace, in the Middle East and in all the world.