Holy Week Challenge & Prayer — Loren McGrail, Israel/Palestine

Gaza, photo from Christian Aid, UK

Prayed at Saint Andrews Scots Memorial Church in Jerusalem

Setting the scene

When Jesus came into Jerusalem for that last supper the crowds were singing and dancing. Palms were waved and coats were tossed on the ground—all for the victorious One. Hosanna in the highest. No matter that he came on a donkey instead of a white steed. He had arrived past soldiers and checkpoints to deliver the people. Even the stones were shouting out and could not be silenced. What were the stones crying out? What are they crying out now? Are we listening to our still speaking God in the land many call holy? Or have we blocked up our ears or worse silenced God?

The scene today

Many people come to the holy land to see the places where the sacred story took place—where the shepherds camped that cold starry night, where Jesus was born, crucified and was resurrected. They come to feel the holiness, imagining the story which took place here and here and here. They come to visit the old stones.

Now this is an important part of pilgrimage, but this is not all we must do.  We must also listen to the living stones, the Christian Arabs, the Muslims, the Jews who are suffering now, crying out under an occupation that many call not only illegal but a sin against humanity.

What must we do?

We must put our ear to the ground and hear the marching steps of both the soldiers coming for another early morning raid

and children playing in a dusty alleyway.

We must put our ear to the ground and hear the buzz of a Caterpillar bulldozer demolishing another home

and of a group of men dancing the dakbe* at a wedding.

We must put our ear to the ground and hear the cries of a woman who is crying herself to sleep because her husband, her son, her daughter have just been arrested without charge and are now being tortured in a prison somewhere she can’t get to.

We must put our ear to the ground and hear the gentle whisper of olive leaves in the wind that are saying, “ This is us, Palestine, our roots run deep, nothing can uproot us from our land.”

Our holy week mission

Our still speaking, crying, shouting, whispering God calls us today to follow down to the Mount of Olives, up into the upper room, out to the garden of Gethsemane, the Via Dolorosa all the way to the cross.

And finally, we who have been entombed ourselves, are asked to roll away the stone and behold the angel, allow the holy fire to fill us.

This is our holy week mission and it begins today.

Let the church say Amen.

*Dakbe: an Arab folk dance often performed at weddings

Loren, a Christian minister sojourning in Israel and Palestine, shares her reflections on her blog, A Garment of Destiny.  Her ministry with YMCA of Palestine is supported by Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ USA and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) USA.