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Pray for Peace
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July, August, September 2002
Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem:
For whom (and for what) are we to pray??
The following article was written from Jerusalem by the Very Rev. Ross Jones,
Dean of Saint George's College in Jerusalem at the request of the Executive
Director. Dean Jones may be contacted by email at
Few places are more frustrating than this Land that is called Holy. It is the land where our roots sink more deeply than anywhere else. It is a land of desert and rocks that yet is filled with wonderful beauty. It is a land where the people have welcomed us and made us feel at home. It is also a land that peace seems to avoid, and the lack of peace seems to overwhelm everything else.
Christians are suffering and disappearing from this land. In 1968 Christians numbered some 23% of the population of the Holy Land. Today that percentage is usually put at 1.5% and falling. Statisticians tell us that it will not be many years before the percentage is too small to count, that, statistically, Christians will have disappeared from this land. All Christians here are Palestinians (with the exception of a very few Messianic Jews, all of whom have come from abroad). Our Bishop tells me that in 1948 the Anglican congregation in Jaffa had 850 members; today it has seven. In 1968 the Anglican congregation in Nazareth had 1200 members; today it has 125. More examples could be given.
The Christians are leaving because, like all other Palestinians, they find little hope for their families. Denied access to employment, education, health care, and the other basic needs of life, they see no other choice. One of our friends in Bethlehem told us yesterday that she will soon go to Egypt. I would do the same in her circumstances, but I hate to see it happen.
One of the effects of the Christian exodus will be the removal of a very moderating influence. Christians have long had the reputation of being the most non-violent group here. It is not by accident that the people of Bethlehem sought shelter at the Basilica of the Nativity during the recent siege. I am proud of that reputation, and hope that it will always be so. But it means that Christians often feel both a minority here and a step-child abroad. The Christian Right in the USA supports the State of Israel's efforts to contain all Palestinians and that simply leaves the Christian community here feeling abandoned. Remember that the USA is the biggest power here.
As you say your prayers for your Christian brothers and sisters in this land, ask yourselves how you can pray with your actions as well. No one agrees with everything anyone does, but nothing justifies what is happening here.
A Prayer for Peace
O God, it is your will to hold both heaven and earth in a single peace. Let the design of your great love shine on the waste of our wraths and sorrows, and give peace to your Church, peace among nations, peace in our homes, and peace in our hearts.
(New Zealand Prayer Book, p.142)
A Prayer for our Country
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.