Noticings – October 18, 2023

Prayer for Peace
“When words fail…”

Once again, there is war in the Holy Land. Our news is filled with stories of horrors perpetrated, and retaliations launched. Sorting out who did which horror to whom, or who is retaliating for what is extremely complicated and nuanced. What isn’t complicated is an absolute condemnation of violence against civilians, especially children.

Yesterday there was a terrible bombing of a hospital in Palestine that killed hundreds of people. In the early hours of the reporting, both Israel and Hamas were blamed. Did Israel do such a thing? Did Hamas blow up their own when they meant to blow up someone else? To the dead, does it really matter? Perhaps it’s been sorted by the time this Noticings is published, but the underlying horror remains. It’s beyond understanding. It really doesn’t matter who launched what – what matters is that innocents were killed. This is the great tragedy of this (and all) armed conflicts. Combatants bluster and fight – and civilians, and children pay the price. The hatreds run deep, and there are decades and centuries of troubled history and injustices among these peoples. Looking in from afar we feel helpless. We don’t know what to do, and we don’t know what to say, but we feel moved to respond, somehow.

The United Church of Canada is part of a group called the Canadian Council of Churches. That group has offered “a prayer for peace when words fail.” I invite you to take a deep breath, and share in this prayer.

“Rooted in Truth, Compassion and Justice: A Prayer for Peace When Words Fail”

(A response to recent events in Gaza and Israel)

Words fail to convey how heavily the stories of violence and despair emerging from our screens weigh on our hearts. Yet we recognize that in this case, remaining silent is itself a form of violence. 

Along with countless others around the world, we share the outrage, grief, and sense of helplessness recent events have awakened.  

May we look to the Holy Spirit when we feel helpless, when we do not know what to pray, when words fail to contain the groaning of lament.

May those of us who may be distant from these unfolding events seek to bear witness to the reality of injustice, oppression, violence, and historical complexity rather than turn away.

May we not harden our hearts to the cries of the victims.

May we remember that peace, to be restorative, must be rooted in truth and built on justice while also embracing the way of love.

May we not ignore the necessary foundation of human rights: that we are all made in the image of God.

May we pray for endurance to continue the long road of peace and restoration that calls us to take responsibility for past injustices and repentant of any complicity in oppression.

May we never fail to recall that even while in the midst of violence, we can call for adherence to international humanitarian law.  

May we acknowledge the painful complexity of forgiveness and reconciliation.

May we commit ourselves and one another to not cease labouring for peace and justice.

May we hold space not merely for sorrow, but also hope and peace that transcend the sum of present circumstances.

Prince of Peace, come quickly.