Tuesday, May 26, 2009

World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, June 4-10, 2009

The World Council of Churches' (fourth) annual "World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel," 4-10 June, is taking shape. The special event website is - http://www.worldweekforpeace.org/

An ecumenical worship service to be held in East Jerusalem on Sunday, 7 June 2009, sponsored by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, will anchor World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel.

Prayers are the first action of World Week, and people and parishes around the world are invited to send prayers for peace to aei@p-ol.com in Bethlehem (some 40 countries responded last year). A church-related NGO there shares the prayers for worldwide use on-line during World Week and for local use – to be read aloud at the Wall or near settlements, and in Palestinian parishes and schools including in Gaza. Peace stories, diaries, reflections and religious songs from the OPT, especially from women, are also available.

A community festival in early May served as a lead-up event to World Week with prayers projected onto the Wall at night, peace music traveling over the Wall from concerts, roofs and balconies, and people with candles forming a large key in the face of many locked gates. The theme is ‘sumud’ (steadfastness).

Ecumenical Accompaniers are blogging about settlements and their impact: http://www.eappi.org/en/news-events/blog-its-time-to-speak-out.html

Sabeel is sponsoring a youth cultural event or demonstration for World Week. Palestinian civil society organizations including church-related groups are appealing to the European Union not to upgrade its relations with Israel because of the war in Gaza in addition to on-going occupation. Churches abroad are invited to advocate on the issue, including during World Week.

Ireland has produced a liturgy this year. It's a participatory service with stories and photos of young Palestinians and Israelis, a prayer from the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem,
prayers by a Jewish rabbi in Jerusalem and a Muslim carpenter in Gaza. The liturgy can be found at the website - http://www.worldweekforpeace.org/ - at the "resources" link.

Here are the prayers from
Ecumenical Worship - It's Time For Peace

Leader: Let us pray

Prayer 1: We remember all the people of Israel/Palestine who suffer – Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian – all those who have been victims of violence, who are bereaved, who are isolated by checkpoints and walls, who are in prison, and all those who live in fear.

We ask that you will intervene and allow all people of faith to join together to make their beliefs a driving force for peace. Let the power of your Redemption and your Peace transcend all barriers of cultures and religions and fill the hearts of all who serve you, of both peoples - Israeli and Palestinian - and of all religions. Lord, we pray for Peace.

RESPONSE: O Lord hear our prayer

Prayer 2: (A JEWISH PRAYER FOR PEACE, by Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Jerusalem. The full text is included as an Appendix and may be used.)

Eloheinu V’Elohei Kadmoneinu (Our God and God of our Ancestors), strengthen us to overcome our fear and to be Your partners in creating the world that You envisioned when You promised our ancestors, “Through you shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:1, 26:4, 28:14).

When we think that we protect ourselves by doing to others what has been done to us, help us realize that today it is we Israelis who have the overwhelming power to act justly or unjustly.
Both we and the Palestinian people with whom we are destined to share this land strive to strengthen our claims to this land by denying claims of the other. May we all come to understand that two peoples have deep roots in this land. Both we and those with whom we will either live together or die together have desecrated Your Image as we have harmed each other. However, we all so deeply feel our own victim-hood that we are furious when accused of being victimizers.

Help us all to understand that violence corrupts even when our cause is just, and that the difference between being a victim and a victimizer is less than a hair’s breadth (Rabbi Shmuel Tamerat). We Israelis and Palestinians know how to see each other as strangers – as “other”. Yet the word shalom (peace) comes from the same root as shalem (whole). Open our hearts to perceive that through your Oneness, we are all one.

Help us to overcome and grant us courage. Though we know in our hearts the path we must take, we have failed to do so. Barukh Ata Adonai (Blessed are You Adonai) Sovereign of the universe, who gives strength to the weary.


Prayer 3: (A CHRISTIAN PRAYER FOR PEACE, by Elise Aghazarian, Jerusalem)

We pray for more active voices that challenge ambivalence.
For a more effective, profound, and empathetic spirit of solidarity.
For Palestinian farmers whose lands are expropriated, for families whose houses are demolished, for people who are losing their right to live in their cities.
For West Bankers who are not allowed to pray in Jerusalem.
For students who are tired from standing on checkpoints.
For Palestinian women.
For political prisoners.
For those challenging different forms of pain.
For the besieged in Gaza.
For horizons that challenge walls, for steadfastness that challenges despair.
For the freedom of Palestine.


Prayer 4: (A MUSLIM PRAYER FOR PEACE, by Abd Al-Rahman, a carpentry student at the Vocational Training Center, in Gaza, a Church-related institution)

In The Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, Liberate our prisoners. Assist us, for our homes are destroyed. Protect us from frightening Wars.

Lead us everywhere Show us the right Path Let it rain and do not leave us thirsty. Make our country safe. Fix our hurt from corruption.

Mend our internal affairs in this country. Make this country peaceful Protect us from air strikes. Free us from occupation.


Prayer 5: We thank you for the links of Churches worldwide with Bethlehem, root of our Christian faith, and throughout the Holy Land. We thank you for the friendships of ordinary people worldwide with Christian communities in the Holy Land.

We remember the humanitarian work of aid agencies and their local partners in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and Israel, who work to make peace possible. For the pastoral care of many doctors and nurses, and the work of many teachers, priests, and religious, who give committed service working together for the good of others; Father, we thank you.

RESPONSE: O Lord hear our prayer

Prayer 6: We thank you for the work of the World Council of Churches and of Churches throughout the world that lift up the need for solidarity with the Christians in the birthplace of Christianity and with their neighbours, all of whom are suffering very much.

We remember the work of the Ecumenical Accompaniment teams who stand with ordinary people, of all faiths, in daily lives so marked by Occupation. Father, we pray for peace.

RESPONSE: O Lord hear our prayer

Prayer 7: We ask for your mercy and support for the Christian presence in the birthplace of Christianity, and at this time we remember especially the tiny Christian community in Gaza, and all in Gaza who live in the midst of despair, isolation and immense suffering.

We ask that they will feel your light working to bring them through the darkness. We ask that the people of Gaza will be inspired by peace, resist oppression with love, and that the siege of Gaza will be lifted and dignity restored to all.

Jesus, through your birth, life and death, you gave us a ministry of reconciliation. We ask you to give strength to all who work for peace in Israel/Palestine and to all who promote the need for dialogue and understanding. Lord, uphold them in their work.

RESPONSE: O Lord hear our prayer

Prayer 8: (A JERUSALEM PRAYER FOR PEACE, from the Churches in Jerusalem)

Leader: Finally, as part of this World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, the Churches in Jerusalem have sent us a prayer for peace. We are invited to pray with them, joining churches around the world, and saying together:

Heavenly Father, We give you thanks and praise for the gift of your Son, Jesus – his birth in Bethlehem, His ministry throughout the land we call ‘holy’, His death on the cross, and His glorious resurrection and ascension. Jesus came as the ‘Prince of Peace’ and we give thanks that around the world the Churches and Christians are praying for the peace of Jerusalem and this land.

We pray for all leaders who dedicate their lives to a just peace for their peoples. Send us political leaders ready to dedicate their lives to a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis. Make them courageous enough to engage in a process that puts an end to the occupation imposed by one people on another - granting freedom to Palestinians, giving security to Israelis, and freeing all from fear.

We pray specifically for the people of Gaza to be freed from their unending trials and threats, for all those living in refugee camps in the region, and for those now living abroad. Free all the people of this land from the sin of hatred and violence and bring us together to work for peace.
We seek your blessing especially on the children and young people, that their fear and the anxiety of conflict may be replaced with the joy and happiness of peace. We pray for the well-being of the elderly and those with special needs, and for their contribution to the future of this land.

All this we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen

THE LORD’S PRAYER: Said by all in their own language

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