In the stunned faces and writhing bodies of little children besieged by bombs and missiles we hear the ancient cry of the God whose own body is constantly torn apart by us all—God’s very own children. Whether we are Americans, Israelis, or Palestinians, our own tortured histories have produced this terror. We have all claimed lands and houses that our not our own, all in the name of God or history, or ancestry. The higher our reasons, the more vicious our justifications, the more violent our actions. The Bible may be a testimony to God’s grace but it is just as visibly a witness to our violence and aggression.
And so we weep.
And in this weeping, we continue to seek to crawl, to inch, toward a table where we might all eat together, where we might exercise hospitality to strangers, where we might reconcile our differences for the sake of the One who created us all. It’s a practice that stretches from Abraham’s welcome to the divine strangers at Mamre (Genesis 18) to Jesus’s table fellowship with his followers in Jerusalem. It is one we seek to live into every month here in our own little town with our Roundtable Gathering. And so I share again with you the Call and the Remembrance from our last gathering, as we pray for the Peace—the deep just Shalom— of Jerusalem. That God’s body—and ours—might be healed.
Call to the Table
Out of your desperate search to claim your land
I lead you to the land of my abundance.
Away from poisoned wells of greed
I draw you to the water of my love.
From ancient olive trees uprooted
I bring green branches of my peace.
Out of a dying Jordan River
I create anew the ocean of my faithfulness.
In a Jerusalem of national idolatries
I raise a table for humanity to gather for a feast.
We come to your table.
Your table of peace.
ALL. Amen. Amin, Ameyn.
In the garden of our innocence you gave us your companionship.
In our anxious drive for domination we cut up your land to house our fear.
Farmers and herdsmen fell upon each other’s throats.
Our ceremonies of devotion became the bloody pretense for a holocaust,
Your word of justice sank in silence underneath the stones of retribution.
Out of the suffering body of your precious world you birthed a new creation.
Out of the hanging tree, now full with blossom, you brought forth a fruit to feed the world.
Out of a dying branch you built a table open to us all.
Amen. Amin. Ameyn.
It has been a deep hope that we all could learn from the devastating perversions of our religious beliefs and practices, whether in Germany or our own American past. The continued violence in Israel/Palestine, and here as well in so-called Evangelicals’ support for Trump, continues to contest with this hope. But our hope persists. Always grateful for your lifting it up.
Dear Bill, was it really the ceremonies of devotion that produced the holocaust ? Holocaust for me is what happened between 1938 and 1945 in the countries devastated by Nazi Germany when the Jewish population of Europe was to be exterminated. Was it not a heathen ideology of race and superiority that was the contrary of the Christian faith and of the contents of Christian devotion? Of course, religions, also the Christian, have had periods of devastating cruelty and violence completely opposite to the Gospel of love and justice. And Good Friday often was the day of attacking and killing of Jews instigated by weird myths of conspiracy. Such weird religious junk thought is unfortunately always around, in all religions leadinng to the worst. But we are not in this any more, if “we” means “us”. Don’t you think we have learned the Nazi “German Christian” (i.e. nationalist religion) lesson?
Maybe that was a little too poetic, too elliptical. It means that the religious and ceremonial differences we erect, as if they are absolute truth, then become the holocaust by which we shut out, eliminate, erase those others who follow different ceremonies. For instance, we remember how the worst pogroms occurred on Good Friday. We are still killing each other over religious differences today. Does that help? Many thanks for pondering with me, as always.
Dear Bill, thank you very much for the deep and moving thoughts about the extremely involved conflict with intricately complicated roots!
I just had a problem with understanding the following sentence, cryptic to me- please enlighten!
“Our ceremonies of devotion became the bloody pretense for a holocaust”.
May the Spirit of Pentecost enable understanding where there has been deafness of ears and hearts!
Thank you again,
Thank you, Bill, for these beautiful words and for reminding us of the terrible lessons we never seem to learn. Blessings. Linda
Thank you for this profound and moving lament and call to the table of peace!