By Helen Reid, Leeds Church Institute
As we hear even more distressing news from Gaza and Israel, how do we locate our responses as Leeds Christians? I thought I would share my attempts to learn, reflect and act. I have turned to groups and individuals who send me regular email newsletters throughout the year as a way to gain both balance and hope from trusted sources when media coverage is so overwhelming. I am drawing on:
Sabeel – the Ecumenical Palestinian Liberation Theology Centre – has described the situation as, ‘Terrible violence between Israeli forces and armed Palestinian resistance groups’ and contextualised this by reminding readers that Palestinian people have suffered in various ways for over the 75 years since the Nakba. They held an online international Ecumenical Service of Lament.
Joel Meyer – Licensed Tour Guide and Educator in Israel – has written about his personal and traumatic experience of living with his family of young children in Israel at present. He has hosted a series of online international meetings to keep people up to date with events and share concerns.
Council of Christians and Jews – the national forum for Christian/Jewish engagement – who wrote, ‘Our hearts are broken [by the] news of horrific violence in Israel and Gaza.’ They have hosted a vigil for peace outside 10 Downing Street and offered opportunities for shared mourning. They advise Christian members to please check in on Jewish friends who may be mourning or have local security concerns.
The Anglican Diocese of Leeds – their website foregrounds a message from the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, the Most Revd Hosam Naoum, urging the Communion to ‘pray without ceasing for justice, reconciliation, peace, and an end to hatred and war’ and, with other Archbishops of Jerusalem, declared Tuesday 17th a day of prayer and fasting.
I am encouraged by the way these organisations and people seek peace, justice and unity, and want to be in alignment with them. And so I pray, inspired by a prayer shared by the President and Vice President of the Methodist Conference, that the God of peace and compassion enables each of us to stand in solidarity with those who are suffering, in Gaza, Israel and also here in Leeds through personal and community connections. May God’s Spirit bring peace and healing to our troubled world.