Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hump Day Prayer . . . The Middle East

A Service of Prayer for Peace in the Middle East
(adapted from a service at Hunter Presbyterian Church, Lexington, Kentucky, on December 19, 2000)

Lighting of the Christ Candle

The light shines in the darkness,
And the darkness has not overcome it.
In our Lord Jesus Christ there is light and peace.
Thanks be to God!

Scripture Readings
Responsive Reading Psalm 87 (adapted from Grail Translation)
On the holy mount stands the city founded by the Lord.
The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.
Egypt, Babylonia, Philistia, Phoenicia, and Ethiopia are some of the nations that know you,
And all their people say, "We were born in Zion."
God most high will strengthen the city of Zion.
Then everyone will say, "We were born here too."
The Lord will make a list of his people,
And all who were born here will be included.
All who sing or dance will say, "I too am from Zion."

Psalm 27:7-10 in Arabic
Psalm 27:7-10 in Hebrew
Psalm 27:7-10 in English

A Moment of Silent Reflection

Isaiah 2:1-5
A Moment of Silent Reflection

Isaiah 65:17-25

A Moment of Silent Reflection

Prayer of Intercession (Responsive)

Give us ears to hear, O Lord,
to hear the cries of a people living under occupation,
of farmers whose land has been taken,
of parents whose children have been killed or wounded,
of faithful Christians and Muslims barred from worshiping in the Holy City.
Hear our prayers for justice and peace for the Palestinians.
Give us ears to hear, O Lord,
to hear the voices of those who bear the scars of the Holocaust,
Of mourners grieving the deaths of those killed in recent conflicts,
of those who seek new ways of bringing reconciliation,
Of those whose bright hopes for a "promised land" have ended in despair.
Hear us as we pray for security and peace for the people of Israel.
Eternal God, merciful and compassionate,
we pray for the Christians of Israel and Palestine.
Surround them with the prayers of their sisters and brothers around the world,
strengthen them to witness fearlessly for justice and peace.
We pray for the Jews of Israel and the settlers of the Occupied Territories,
that the spirit of the prophets may flourish among themand then they may know your shalom.
We pray for the Muslims of Israel and Palestine,
that they may worship freely and be richly blessed.
We pray for all the children of Abraham-Christian, Jewish, and Muslim-
that justice and peace shall clasp hands and the "Holy Land" become truly holy.

Closing Responses
When the song of the angels is stilled
and the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home
and the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to proclaim liberty to the oppressed,
to bring peace to the people.

Salaam. Shalom. Peace.


Stushie said...

Acts 1:6 So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"

The Middle East conflict seems to spiraling out of control. We've invaded and occupied Iraq. Israel is invading Lebanon. Iran is developing nuclear bombs. Syria is supplying Hezbollah with rockets and the United Nations is playing its usual role by hopelessly prevaricating. It all seems familiar and strangely biblical at the same time. What the outcome will be, God only knows.

As Christians, we tend to forget that Israel will play an important role in the end times. When Christ returns, He will appear at the Mount of Olives and walk through the streets of Jerusalem. When God finally concludes history, it will take place after Israel’s prominence is completely restored. You see, whether we like it or not, Israel has a chosen place in God’s heart, and He will not let it be extinguished or annihilated, no matter how hard, how long, and how bitterly other rogue nations try to make it so.

Some people in our own denomination are crying out for peace and justice, especially for the Palestinians. They have conveniently forgotten that God is on Israel’s side, and whether or not it appears fair to us, God’s sovereign will and favoritism cannot be thwarted nor successfully opposed. The plight of the Palestinians is in the hands of the Jordanians as well as the Israelis. Anyone who cares to look at a pre-1948 map of Palestine will see that 60% of its land mass was overtaken by the Jordanians. But do we have anyone calling for the Jordanians to give back the land that they took? No, we'd rather pressurize democratic Israel, which is resolutely fighting for its right to exist, rather than upsetting a once important Arab ally.

But no matter what we think, God’s will prevails. It may seem to us that the Israelis have over-reacted on the issue of the two kidnapped soldiers, but if two Marines had been taken by Hezbollah and were firing rockets on our civilians, wouldn't we do the same?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are anxious about what’s happening in the world today, especially in the Middle East. Grant us the gift of discernment to truly know what is going on and to fully understand how God’s will is being fulfilled. Help us to overcome our prejudices. Enable us to pray for Your peace to be completely restored, and for Your presence to finally return. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Teri said...

God may be with Israel, but I doubt that today's Israel is exactly the same as what God chose. I also would like to point out that the last time Israel flouted God's law they were booted out of the land. Maybe it's time for them to read the book that came with the land.

Anonymous said...

Been reading Hal Lindsey and the Left Behind series I see. What a load of religious nutjob bunk!

Modern day Israel is only passingly like anicent Israel, which was disbanded, scattered, and interbred among other peoples. The modern day state of Israel is no more "the chosen people" than China, Mexico, the U.S. and Cuba are.

My worry is that the people that are running the show (W. Bush, etc.) believe the same crap that you do and will end up nuking everything in the hopes that the messiah or rapture or whatever will magically appear. Yeah right - surrrrrrreee. If they don't watch out, they are going to be creating a self-fulling apocolyptic prophesy.

One more thing. We HAVE had several Marines kidanpped and killed in recent history and we didn't overreact like Israel is. Check out Black Hawk Down, where some Marines were ambushed in Sudan and you'll see the story. Or maybe, you wanted Clinton to push the button in response so that Jesus would appear in the nuclear fire and take all the true believers up to heaven before the great tribulation or something?


Stushie said...

dear anonymous

I've never read a Hal Lyndsey or a left Behind book in my life. Only the Bible. Read it - carefully.

Teri said...

I think we all need to read the Bible more carefully. I don't know how it is that a sentence about "restore the kingdom to Israel" means that the modern nation-state of Israel is the rightful holder of the "kingdom", nor do I know how it is that a mere sentence outweighs all the prophets (or biblical history, for that matter) about whether God is on the side of Israel or not.

Indeed, I pray that God will help us to overcome our prejudices.