Thursday, December 14, 2006


A Road Map for Peace

TRENTON: Westminster Presbyterian Church Welcomes Parish Associate to reflect on Israel/Palestine trip. December 10, 2006.

Before I left to go on a mission trip to the Middle East, Pastor Karen Hernandez-Granzen invited me to preach in December. When I returned, I found out that I was scheduled to preach on December 10th, the 2nd Sunday in Advent, when we light the candle of Peace, which is also Human Rights Day. I knew while I was on my trip that I would have the opportunity to preach and share my experience with my worshiping community.

Yesterday was the first time, except for a few intimate friends, that I shared my journey. I tried to state it through the eyes of my host family, a teenager from Berzeit University, two men who are a part of the Parents Circle group and all the children that I could possibly remember. What I didn’t anticipate were the emotions that I would experience during a hectic work week schedule, with not a lot of time to spare.

Thanks to Ted Settle, I was able to make a beautiful bulletin with the City of Jerusalem on the front. I began with the image of Jerusalem and ended with Bill McQuoid’s collage of Palestinian Children.

During Worship in the Arts for the Child in All of Us, I was able to dedicate the olive wood crèche to Westminster. I had fun with the children, asking them if they remembered their birth, which many acknowledged that they did. I showed the congregation the spot where Jesus was born and where the troth might have been, along with contemporary pictures of what Bethlehem looks like today.
PS: There were more children than there were seats! Praise God!

I wrote a sermon, which I began to edit for the blog, but realized that even though I wrote one, I took the liberty of telling stories through 2/3 of it. The stories began with Rafat and Mary. Then I moved to a bit about what we saw, including pictures of the walls. I spoke a bit about the media, and then told the story of Akram from Beirzeit University as a witness to the checkpoints and how people are played with like pawns. I ended my sermon with stories and photographs of the children. I concluded with a message of hope. I realized how desperately I need to do that in the middle of the week! I shared about the 31 peace-making groups, but lifted up the groups and schools that work specifically by teaching and modeling non-violence and reconciliation. Wouldn’t this most likely raise a generation of people who might do something differently?

I capitalized on the metaphor, Road Map to Peace. We learned that this is how each side of the conflict might come to consensus about a solution. I suggested that we each need our own road map.

I have been personally challenged over the last 30 days by a relationship that I struggle with in my own life. This forced me to ask the question, “How do we look at conflict in our own lives?” If we are preparing for the prince of peace, our reconciler, it should not be that difficult to get along with our family member, colleagues and people who believe in Christ? Right?
The reason that I am taking this “blog time” is because my church embraced this message. I felt free to lift my eyes from the text and share the stories that touched my life when I was in the Holy Land.

Yesterday was a busy day, we had a baptism, which affected many people in different ways. We discovered that Inae was meant to be raised by Westminster Presbyterian Church. She had lived in the neighborhood, but only by a mere coincidence--is there such a thing-- her guardians, who are her grandparents, happen to be members of the church. As the newest member of the church, Inae is an example that I was able to use for our road map of peace. We can practice non-violence and love with our commitment to her--to all children in our lives.

I can certainly share stories of pain and hope. I can put images on a multi-media screen to move people, but how do those that didn’t make the trip become motivated toward justice? I think we have to take it personally.

“What this text has forced me to look at is my own way to peace. Sure, I can share the awful plight and state the facts of what I saw, the injustices and the hope. I can show you pictures, so that you will become more engaged. But, what good does it do, if we don’t have our own way of dealing with peace. Where do we stand in our own relationships, when there is conflict? What is our own road map to peace? How do we prepare the way for God to enter our own lives?”

Yesterday many people came up to me afterwards and thanked me. They said things like, “I had no idea that you would have to be careful about how you say things” . . . .or “thank you for telling us about the media, I had no idea that we were not getting the full picture.” I even heard, “I appreciated that you told the truth!” I am not talking about patting me on the back because I did a good job, but I got thanked for bringing the message to my worshipping community, who not only loves and cares for me, but prayed for all of us and continue to do so.

I thank God for Westminster Presbyterian Church. We are a community that tries to be creative and authentic to the worship of God. However, the freedom to express myself, using pictures and liturgy from the Human Rights Liturgy, PCUSA, is something that was a blessing. I know that many churches would not have had the courage.

This service was taped, so we might have a copy for our archives. As we continue to gather, reflect on scripture and pray for the wisdom to speak the truth, I want to say thank you to my church for letting me be who God has called me to be.

Marcia MacKillop, Parish Associate

The civil war, Lebanon witnessed many of them and now their main concern should not return to the Arab and bloody wars, has vowed the Lebanese people in the 14th of March to remain united in perpetuity, Muslims and Christians chanted that behind Shahid Jubran Twini, Palestine, and is now about to fall into the trap of civil war, which the government has Israel is behind the assassination of children and the elderly.
Free Palestine T-shirts, Free Lebanon T-shirts
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