Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday, John—With Love as Its Logic

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
If you have love for one another.” Jn13.35

I think that if I endured the daily oppression that is part of every Palestinian’s life, I would be bitter and angry, depressed and hopeless. But the Palestinians I have met have instead chosen to be resourceful (like the firemen in yesterday’s post), creative and non-judgmental. They are resigned to things as they are, but also hopeful, knowing for certain that the occupation of their land and lives will not go on forever.

Whether Christian or Muslim, their faith in God’s promise of abundant life sustains them, gives them courage and hope. When I first went to Palestine and saw the harsh reality of the wall and the way Israel is continuing to take everything from them, I thought they would hate me for supporting Israel with my taxes.

But I have never experienced any hatred—only love. This looks like discipleship to me.

In 2009, Palestinian Christians wrote a letter to the world, telling of their situation, their suffering and the injustice still being done to them. They called it “Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth.” They stated their situation boldly and honestly and asked the world to take notice and change the situation, especially the US, which supports Israel with $3B per year.

They expose the occupation—the theft of land, the arrests without charges, the brutal treatment of prisoners, the violence against peaceful protesters, the permit system that does not allow them to leave their towns—and they call this an evil and a sin. They say Christians are called to resist these evils—a resistance “with love as its logic.”

They also speak to Muslims and Jews—with love. Their message to the Muslims is “a message of love and living together and a call to reject fanaticism and extremism.” Their message to Jews is, “Even though we have fought one another in the recent past and still struggle today, we are able to love and live together. We can organize our political life, with all its complexity, according to the logic of this love and its power.”

Then they add a caveat: “…after ending the occupation and establishing justice.”

This week, as we remember Jesus’ last days and hear the stories, showing all the reasons why he was killed, I think of these Palestinians, struggling to end their oppression, resisting the evil they are enduring. Bringing love to their situation is truly a sign of God’s presence and the work of the Holy Spirit.

They call on us to, “stand alongside the oppressed and preserve the word of God as good news for all rather than to turn it into a weapon with which to slay the oppressed.”

Not everyone can travel to Palestine or become totally immersed in the Palestinian narrative as I have, but we can all look around us and see the injustice in our own towns, in our own country, and do what they ask, “stand alongside the oppressed and preserve the word of God as good news for all.”

God of love, in these days we have come to know you through your son Jesus. As we wash one another's feet tonight and remember his ministry of love and his sacrifice, help us to be his disciples. Amen.

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