Friday, January 9

A Message from Christians in Gaza

On Sunday, January 4, four hundred Palestinian Christians and Muslims gathered with Christian internationals at St. Stephen's Dominican Basilica in Jerusalem for a prayer service on behalf of the people of Gaza. At the service, Rev. Naim Ateek (an MCC partner and director of Sabeel) read a message from Father Manuel Musallam of the Roman Catholic Church of Gaza. The following is translated and adapted from Father Musallam's message:

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

From the valley of tears, from Gaza which is drowning in its own blood, I send you a word of faith and hope. The word "love" is choked in our throats. We cannot, even as Christians, dare to speak it to ourselves. As priests, we lift up the virtue of hope so God may have mercy on us and allow the light of Christ—which was first lit by Phillip, the deacon of this city—not to be extinguished but to keep shining in the midst of the remnant Christian community in Gaza.

I share with you the sad news about our young daughter—a student at our Holy Family School and the first Christian girl to die in this war—Kristine Wade Attork. She was in the tenth grade and she died on Saturday morning, January 3, 2009 as a result of fear and the cold [Kristine died of a heart attack]. She could not bear the sound of missiles and bombs and she went to God seeking a better home and refuge where there is no weeping or wailing but joy and happiness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what you see on TV is nothing compared to the terrible reality in Gaza. The siege and the war on Gaza have become a crime against humanity. It is only the just and righteous judgment of God that can give a fair trial of what is happening here.

The human trauma for the children is unbearable. People are sleeping in the corridors of their homes to avoid the bombings. The density of the population makes it difficult to hide because the people live so close to each other. This is why the toll of human life—including that of women and children and the destruction of homes—has been so extensive.The conditions in the hospitals, the lack of utilities, and the shortage of medicine are all tragic. Flour is scarce and some of the bread this is baked is not healthy because it lacks pure ingredients.

I implore you to pray without ceasing for the people of Gaza every time you hold a mass. Continue to sing—O God of peace, shower your peace upon us. Your prayers will move the world because nothing can stand in the way of true Christian love. This love makes us all feel that we are a part of the one holy and catholic church; and our Muslim brothers and sisters are our family with whom we share a common destiny, for we are one Palestinian people.

In the midst of all this, our people in Gaza reject war as a means for peace; and we emphasize that the way of peace is peace. We choose to live in order to give praise to God and to witness for Christ. We want to live for Palestine and not die for Palestine. However, if we have to die, we will die strong, brave, and with honor.

We join you in your prayer so that Christ may give us his true peace. So the wolves and the sheep can live together in peace, the leopards and goats can lie together, and babies can place their hands in the mouths of snakes and not be harmed.

The peace of Christ, which has called you to be one body, be with you and protect you. Amen.

There are 2500 Gazan Christians. The majority are Greek Orthodox although there are Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant congregations as well. For more on Palestinian Christians, click here and here.

-Peter Miller is an MCC SALT worker based in East Jerusalem. He is a recent graduate of Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas.


Jim Gustafson said...

Pray we must as those who follow Jesus, the Prince of Peace. "I am coming soon," he said. Even so come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20

Jim Gustafson said...

Pray we must as those who follow Jesus, the Prince of Peace. "I am coming soon," he said. Even so come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20