Prayers for peace in Israel-Palestine
Churches and Christian organisations are responding with prayers and statements to the violence in Israel and Gaza. These can help guide your own prayers.
Stations of the Cross in time of war in Gaza
Palestinian Christians cry out to Christians worldwide, ‘Is it nothing to you who pass by?' Lamentations 1:12
Here are a new set of prayers alongside Scripture readings and the wonderful woodcuts ‘Ecce homo' by Margaret Adams Parker, who has graciously granted use of her work for this Stations of the Cross.
Stations of the Cross as a practice of Christian devotion began in the 14th century. Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem from 16th century onwards walked the Via Dolorosa, retracing the steps of Jesus as handed down by tradition. This year there will not be many pilgrims walking the well-worn path because of the ongoing war in Gaza. Yet many of all faiths are walking their own Via Dolorosa as the war brings great suffering.
How might you use this resource? You might pray the Stations personally during Holy Week, or use them in a small group setting. You could download the material and set up ‘stations' around the church or a church hall and allow people time to travel between them. You might use them in a Holy Week service with multiple readers and project the images in a PowerPoint presentation. You could print the woodcuts in A4, A3 or even take them to a printer to print A1. You might have a public facing space, or an outside space where you wish to display them.
Even if following the Stations of the Cross is not part of your tradition, I hope you will find this a useful aid to devotion and to prayer for all those suffering in conflict around the world and particularly in Israel-Palestine.
As the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, recently wrote:
"If you pray, pray from your guts, not your lips – offer a prayer that moves in you and through you – one that calls you to reach out to a fearful neighbour, to speak up for peace and calm and the unity of humanity.
"Pray for all those many people injured and those mourning the loss of loved ones and those living in abject fear who await news of family members missing.
"Wherever you are, check in on your Jewish neighbours, friends and colleagues.
"Wherever you are, check in on your neighbours, friends and colleagues who have family in Gaza.
"Wherever you are, be mindful of your words. Tarring with a broad brush adds more fuel to the fire, so be kind to one another wherever you find each other.
"The Zulu phrase, Ubuntu, is the theme for my year as Moderator and its challenging truth resonates powerfully today. ‘I am because you are.' We are one global family. When we look into the face of another human being, God looks out from the windows of their souls. Today, love God by loving each other."
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland - A prayer for peace
‘In days to come … they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore.
God, it is said that you are the peace that passes all understanding. We sit now, staggered at how quickly the fragile half-peace we had pieced together has unravelled.
The lessons we have so desperately needed to learn have been laid aside as the instruments of war begin their horrible, haunting reprise. Call us back to our senses.
For the angry, abused and frightened among us, who strike out in a distorted quest for victory, help us find ways to convince that there is no victory to be found in violence.
Peace-making is a daunting path to tread, especially when fear follows so closely behind, so breathe your loving spirit into our hearts and help us walk your way.
We pray ceaselessly for our family in Israel and Palestine, for we are all family and when one part suffers, we are all depleted. Peace in pieces is a collective, shared shame.
God, you are the peace that passes all understanding, so help us understand how to find you.
Christian Aid - Prayer for the Middle East
God, hear our prayers for peace in the Middle East.
May all people in the region be protected, safe from harm.
We pray that this crisis will end now, with no further loss of life.
God, may the injured and distressed know your healing presence.
May the powerful and the decision-makers follow the paths of justice, mercy and peace.
We pray for recognition of the dignity and value of every life.
May the clamour of violence cease,
Replaced by the beating of swords into ploughshares.
God, in your name,
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
O God of all
Of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael:
Our hearts are broken in pieces at the suffering and murder of your people.
Our voices cry for peace and for justice.
Comfort those who grieve,
Console and heal the injured,
Be close to those in fear,
Restrain with your mighty hand those who perpetrate violence.
Send us your wisdom in all that we say and do,
That our voice may always seek justice, peace and security for all.
Scottish Laity Network
The SLN are holding a series of online events around the theme of: 'Waiting in Grief for Peace - The Power of Lament'.
The first event, which was led by Alison Phipps from the University of Glasgow, is now available to view online "In the midst of suffering and desolation how do we manage to grieve and do justice to those we grieve for?"
Palestine Prayer Vigil
On the 24th of every month people all around the world gather to hold the people of Israel and Palestine in their prayers and to pray for peace.
The next online one planned by the Church of Scotland and Christian Aid will take place on 24 January, email Rebecca McGonigle if you would like to sign up for this. Please do go ahead and arrange your own prayer vigil – there is a liturgy here that you can follow, and amend as you like.