As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’
Jesus was referring to his death and resurrection offering new life to all as the visitation from God which Jerusalem didn’t recognise. Many of the people did not recognise Jesus for who he was. Jesus is still present in the ‘living stones’ of indigenous Palestinian Christians but they are under pressure to leave. They too are not recognised for who they are. They are verbally and physically assaulted in the street and their human rights to travel, work, gain a livelihood, and access health care and education are curtailed because of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.
The current situation in the Holy Land is devastating for its people and the world; it demands tears. The things that make for peace remain hidden to many regardless of faith.
Twenty one years ago the Churches of Jerusalem approached the World Council of Churches asking for a greater show of solidarity. The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) was born. In 2022 I was privileged to be able to serve as an Ecumenical Accompanier. Based as part of an international team in Bethlehem for three months I monitored check points, provided a protective presence for shepherds and children going to and from school, and reported on incidents such as home demolitions. https://www.eyewitnessblogs.com/ Locals expressed how good it was to have this international solidarity back after the pandemic.
As part of the Church we are to weep over Jerusalem now, pray for eyes to be opened, and the way to peace be seen. The way of Christ sees the humanity of the other rather than simply seeing the other as a terrorist or an enemy. The way of Christ sees full life emerging from the tomb. The way of Christ weeps for the things of peace to be recognised.
We thank You, O God, for weeping which purifies and purges, cleanses and heals. As we weep for Jerusalem, the land of Israel, and occupied Palestine grant us sight and wisdom, to work through EAPPI and our churches, our governments and political processes, our loves and our lives to bring peace. In the name of Christ the Prince of Peace. Amen.
The Rev’d Rowena Francis is a minister in the Wells and Mid Somerset Group of the South Western Synod