a time for peace

– standing against occupation

Doing life together

What a full week it has been!  The training for our work and the site experiences have humbled me as I have learned more about the difficult situation of the Palestinian people, and been welcomed into their community. (According to a consulate staff member, by the end of this week, we will be the best trained people working in the West Bank!)  As in the time of Jesus, the people here live under occupation, yet are warm and generous with what they have.  The land and sights are beautiful, yet every person I have met has shared a story that takes me beyond the beauty into the pain of his/her life.  There is nothing of “normal life” here; still caring community is abundant.  Some quick glimpses I’ve already seen/met/experienced:

  • the Bethlehem women who gather each week to learn to share their stories as they discover how the difficulties of life have made them and their families stronger 
  • the photographer from the UK who spends 6 month/year working with the children and teens in the Aida Refugee Camp teaching them how published photographs and stories can be powerful tools for protest and healing
  • the Israeli women who monitor 40 checkpoints all around the country twice each day and provide humanitarian assistance for the abused Palestinians who are trying to get to work
  • the Israeli soldiers from “Breaking the Silence” who are telling the truth about their time of military service on the West Bank and raising their concerns about the importance of talking about morality
  • the EA’s I am doing life with right now, who have come from all over, to stand in hard places because just being present makes a difference and offers hope and strength to so many
I will share pictures and stories next week when we are officially “on site.”  We are still learning how to be most effective – and stay safe!  But I am truly moved to be in the company of such honorable, good people who know that tho’ we may not finish the task before us, we can do something that brings all of us closer to what we envision that finish could be.
Peace/Salaam – Pastor Pat
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August 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On to Bethlehem

Today, Monday, we checked in with the EAPPI-Jerusalem staff and were all accounted for – officially counted and registered.  We shared our stories of how the Holy Spirit worked thru people and life experiences to bring us together, and our stories about the important people we have left behind at home.  I couldn’t help but connect our journeys with the journey Joseph and Mary made 2000 years ago – like them we have all left home behind, traveled here to fulfill God’s will, and watch Jesus being born amongst us in a country being occupied by a very powerful force. Two thousand years ago, it was the Romans oppressing the Jewish people, today it is the Israeli government oppressing the Palestinian people with a similar distain and injustice.  Tomorrow we will make our journey to my site in Bethlehem, where I believe I will find the one who I have come looking for…

August 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The End of the World as I know it…

As I walked thru the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Avivafter 20 hours of traveling, I suddenly realized how alone I was. Surrounded by advertisements I couldn’t read, with currency in my pocket I didn’t understand, and discovering there was no one to meet me in the lobby area, it felt like the world I knew had come to an abrupt end.  I began to wonder “what have I gotten myself into??” I was suddenly and powerfully aware that I am a white, suburban, well-educated, middle-class woman, hoping to engage a people so different in so many ways – and I wondered what I would really be able to do.  But soon my driver showed up, I met Susan from Switzerland and Wolfgang from Germany, and we found our way to our hotel on the Mount of Olives.  At the hotel, I had dinner with Dudu and Ashwin from South Africa and Warren from the UK,  and I realized that while I was the lone American in this international group of 24, each of them were all alone too – and together we could become a community similar to the one the Holy Spirit blessed on Pentecost (Acts 2), with the power to minister to the world.

Today, we worshipped together in Jerusalem at an Anglican church in which much of the liturgy and all of the sermon were offered in Arabic.  One of the songs was “In Christ there is no East or West, In him no South or North.”  And while I meditated during a sermon I couldn’t understand, sitting next to a retired Methodist pastor on one side and a leader from a Quaker community on the other, I reflected on the verse that came to mind from Galatians 3:28 “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female.  For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” 
 
I know there are differences that do keep people apart – obviously that is why there is a need for EA’s and the ministry of presence we offer.  But there are also powerful forces that draw people together – the powerful forces of love and justice, known and felt and desired by all people all around the world.  And suddenly I didn’t feel quite so alone, but bound by the love of Jesus to each new person I have met, Jew, Gentile, man, woman, Palesinian, international!
 
And tonight, after enjoying a long Mediterranean dinner in the Old City, engaged in deep discussions about the strained political situation we are entering into, I am sitting in our hotel lobby with new friends from South Africa, Switzerland, the UK, Germany, Norway, Finland, Poland, Sweden, and Hungary – all frantically typing email messages home to those we miss – bound together by our love for Jesus, our upcoming service to the people of Palestine, and our wireless internet connection!  
 
As one world that I have known comes to an end, and a new more international one begins, I am no longer wondering “What have I gotten myself into?” but rather “What will God show me tomorrow?” and praying for the Holy Spirit to bless and surprise me all along the way.  Let Pentecost continue for us all as we make deliberate choices to minister in the name of Jesus!
Peace/Salaam – Pastor Pat

August 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Come follow me…

Jesus calls us one by one, each in a unique way, to follow him: in devotion to God, in compassion for people, and in justice and peace for the world.  Throughout our lives we hear the call in different ways – to life in our family of origin, our job in the world, our partnership with a special someone, thru the community of a church.  In all of these ways, we follow Jesus best when we live in love toward those with whom we share our lives.  Then, every once in a while, we sense a new call, not to the familiar life with people we know and love, but to go in a new direction, moving toward strangers in an effort to serve them as God asks.  So we pack food for starving children, or walk for those battling cancer or CF, or volunteer to teach a new immigrant English, and the world becomes filled a bit more with the things of God – love, grace, mercy, justice.

This time, as I’ve heard God’s call, it’s to travel a bit out of the way and spend three months in Bethlehem, standing with people caught in the power imbalance of occupation.  I hope my efforts will extend God’s care to those I serve.  But I know my efforts are not all that I bring, for I don’t go alone.  First, there is the Holy Spirit going before me, leading me forward and opening possibilities.  Then there are the hundreds of EA’s who have served over the last 4 years, building a solid program and developing relationships, plus the 24 men and women from all over the world who will make up my EA team, enabling my service to be more effective.  And finally, there are so many people in my life who have stepped forward with offers of prayers and financial gifts who are providing the strong support I need.
I’m packed and ready to leave tomorrow, but I know following can be hard.  Yet with this willingness of so many to join me on this journey, I know God will bless all of us and the people we serve in amazing ways – more than we can ask or imagine right now.  Thank you for making this journey with me – it is good to be surrounded by friends!  May we all grow deeper in faith, hope and love as we share this adventure together!

August 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments