No Judgments, Just Jesus

Rev. Franz Rigert – A Pastoral Response to the Middle East Conflict

Dear pastoral colleagues,

The news out of Gaza is horrific, and the plight of 2 million Palestinians is cause for grave concern. Linked below this message is an urgent statement issued yesterday by Churches for Middle East Peace. This nonprofit organization is a coalition of more than 30 national church communions and organizations working to encourage U.S. policies that actively promote a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

Knowing that the conflict in the Holy Land is controversial and that there are strong (indeed extreme) opinions throughout our country and our congregations, I’ve chosen to send this message to our pastors, for your prayerful consideration. As you know, an explosion yesterday struck a Christian hospital in Gaza – a place of healing founded by people of faith and tending to the wounded and dying while under attack. This raises considerable questions about potential war crimes and human rights violations.

It is important that we continue to denounce terrorism in all forms, and thereby condemn the brutal attacks initially leveraged by Hamas and the blast at the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza. It is also important that we remain cognizant of, and sensitive to, the ugly history of Jewish annihilation and the ongoing reality of anti-Semitism. And it is crucial that we uphold the legitimacy of a homeland for Jewish people in the Middle East. So, too, we acknowledge the prevalence of Islamophobia, the suffering of the Palestinian people, and their rightful claim to a homeland in the Middle East as well.

Wherever terror and genocide unfold, our faith demands we be more than silent witnesses. The fright of so many innocent children, women and elders haunts us. Today, the people of Gaza are trapped in desperate circumstances. The toll of hunger, thirst and psychological horror, and the reality of vast destruction and death is unimaginable.

As the age-old proverb says, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” In our faith tradition, Jesus shows us a better way. The way of reconciliation and peace. The way of loving our neighbors no matter their religion or nationality or ethnicity. I urge you and your congregation to pray and advocate for an immediate ceasefire, a massive humanitarian response, and a mandate from world leaders that we step back from the brink of a potentially catastrophic war.

God of Abraham and Sarah, save your people. 
The Rev. Franz Rigert – Conference Minister


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