Greetings from St. Paul’s. I pray you are well.
Last Sunday I preached a sermon and missed an opportunity to focus on the war in Israel and Gaza. We all knew about it as the attack by Hamas had occurred a day earlier on Saturday. Prime Minister Natanyahu had already said “Israel is at war with Hamas” and newscasters were comparing the attack to the Yom Kippur War of 1973. That conflict only lasted 19 days, but the outcome and consequences shaped the future of Israeli-Arab relations into today.
For my part, I had not processed the gravity of Saturday’s Hamas attack when I preached on Sunday. I let it slide in my sermon while I focused on the Ten Commandments and “do not steal.” Do Not Kill may have been a better approach. The horror that has been shown to us in news reports is sickening. You can imagine this week’s sermon preparation has been heavy on my mind.
I cannot promise this Sunday’s sermon will be any good. It may be worse and may not address the real need we all have for answers in today’s violent and broken world. Where is God in this? What does God want in the Middle East? Clearly the answer is Peace, but the solution to achieve peace is hidden from us. Or better phrased, we cannot achieve peace despite ourselves because we get in God’s way. We is everyone, the human race.
I am inclined to share the thesis of my upcoming sermon with you now. I never do this for fear of being inadequate and trapping myself onto the wrong path. Nevertheless, here it is in advance of the Sunday service.
The text that instructs me is Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “…Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people.” … And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people. Exodus 32:11-14 The people had crafted a Golden Calf, even after they had the Ten Commandments, which included No Idols. God had reason to be furious.
The point of this story, like many others of similar context, is that prayer matters. Moses’ conversation with God was prayer. Moses’ plea for peace changed God’s mind.
Prayer matters. Prayer is not control. Prayer is humble. We cannot strong-arm peace in the Middle East. We cannot wave a magic wand and force peace on Israel and its neighbors who seek its destruction. But we can ask God for intervention. We can ask God for peace, The more we pray, the more God is inclined to prevent the war we bring on ourselves.
Pray for Peace in Israel and Gaza.