Something to ponder. We might ask the question, "Was it just coincidental or was it a part of God's plan for us as a congregation?"
- Beginning some time ago now, Sunday services at English Lutheran have focused on the "PROPHETS OF OLD" from the Old Testament, based on the "Book of Faith Series." These prophets, both major and minor, were called directly by God for a purpose. There was Amos, Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah as well as others. . . . and then there was "THE DISPLAY"
- An educational, colorfully visual display prepared and viewed several weeks in the narthex with the title, "A Quest for Peace in the Holy Land." . . . which was followed by another "LEARNING OPPORTUNITY"
- The offering of a four-week informational DVD and discussion series on the Israeli/Palestinian issue entitled "Steadfast Hope - A Quest for Peace in the Holy Land" in which over 50 persons attended.
The timing of these three was not preplanned - it simply evolved - but perhaps it was part of a Greater plan??
Regarding phase one above, we might ask the question, "Does God call men/women as Prophets for a purpose in today's 21st century world?" Many believe God does. I would like to suggest a few Amoses, Micahs and Jeremiahs of today.
The first is a Jewish man by the name of Dr. Mark Braverman, a noted clinical psychologist, now working full time for peace with justice in the Israeli/Palestinian struggle. He has written Fatal Embrace and Neil Elliot has these powerful words to say about Braverman's views and book:
"Fatal Embrace sounds the ancient themes of justice, first voiced by Israel's prophets, at a moment when our need to hear them has rarely been more urgent. The terrible paradox of our age is that those religious communities who ordinarily lay compelling claim to the prophetic tradition, progressive Jews and Christians, fall strangely silent in the face of a moral catastrophe - the increasingly brutal occupation of Palestine - against which Isaiah or Jeremiah would have railed in unrelenting protest. No one has drawn up a more damning indictment of that silence than Mark Braverman; few have cried out with as much clarity or passison for Israel's future. Unless we all hear such prophetic voices and respond, now, with real political resolve, it may be too late for Palestinians and Israelis alike."
The second of today's voices are taken from the "KAIROS Palestine Document - A prayerful call of Palestinian Christians to End the Occupation," prepared by sixteen Palestinian Christian clergy including our Lutheran Bishop, Munib Younan, Jerusalem, Lutheran Pastor, Mitri Raheb, Bethlehem, and Anglican Priest, Naim Ateek, Founder of "Sabeel," Jerusalem - all incredible leaders in this struggle. From their twelve-page "KAIROS Palestine Document," dated December, 2009 (copies available upon request), I quote:
"In order to understand our reality, we say to the Churches: Come and see. We will fulfill our role to make known to you the truth of our reality, receiving you as pilgrims coming to us to pray, carrying a message of peace, love and reconciliation. You will know the facts and the people of this land, Palestinians and Israelis alike. We condemn all forms of racism, whether religious or ethnic, including anit-semitism and Islamaphobia, and we call on you to condemn it and oppose it in all its manifestations. At the same time we call on you to say a word of truth and to take a position of truth with regard to Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. Our numbers are few but our message is great and important. Our land is in urgent need of love. Our love is a message to the Christian, to the Jew, and to the Muslim, as well as to the World."
These are but a few of Today's Prophets whom God has sent to our 21st century world. May we heed their call, God's call!
"Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity." Psalm 133:1