“… guide our feet in the way of peace”
As recent events in Gaza and Israel underscore, the first casualty of war is innocent lives. The hundreds who died in the explosions at al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City are the most recent civilian lives lost in the violence in the region. More than 3,400 people have been killed in Gaza in the past 10 days; two-thirds of them children. More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel, most of them civilians killed when Hamas attacked on October 7. But these lives are not numbers—each has been a loved one, a human being who deserves more than being added to a tally. War tears humanity from us and desensitizes us to the atrocity of a single life violently taken.
The explosions that claimed the lives at the Gaza City hospital also added to the second casualty count: truth. While both Israeli and Hamas say the other is responsible for the catastrophic explosions at the hospital, the larger truth remains: the citizens of Gaza have been living under siege for more than 15 years as Israel imposes apartheid conditions on Palestinians. Until Israel changes that fundamental truth, the injustice fueling the present flames will remain.
While we join the voices calling for an immediate cease-fire, we do so mindful of the words Martin Luther King, Jr. often repeated: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.”
Do not only stop the killing. Do not only deliver the food, water, and aid. Take down the walls. Remove the checkpoints. Carve a fair path to a just future.
We respond to the present violence as followers of the Prince of Peace. Core to our theology is the conviction that violence and war will not bring justice and peace. We mourn with those who mourn on both sides of the divide, and encourage generous support to humanitarian efforts to bring urgently needed supplies to Gaza.
We offer this prayer:
God of peace, of shalom, of salaam,
We pray that your longed-for reign of peace will become a present reality for all people, and especially today for those in Israel-Palestine.
Give us hearts open in compassion for all of those suffering in the present violence.
Give us ears to hear the cries of voices long silenced, as they cry out for justice.
Give us minds to discern the truth upon which our hopes for justice rest.
Give us strength to love even when we are overwhelmed and exhausted by the brokenness of your world.
Forgive us when we close our hearts, ears, and minds to those with whom we disagree, and strengthen us to be grace-filled in our work for justice and peace.
Pray for peace. Pray for compassion. Pray for comfort. But also remember: prayers for peace are not a substitute for calls for justice.
The call to do justice demands of us, as U.S. taxpayers and voters particularly, to call on Congress and President Biden to end support for the Israeli occupation and for its military enforcement of apartheid policies. As long as the United States extends military support to Israel, the attacks on Gaza are being done in our name. Do not pray in silence—take action.
Enter your zip code and send a template email (you can edit the text if you wish) to your representatives). Click on the message to get to the form that can send it:
- Stop genocide of Palestinians in Gaza (Jewish Voice for Peace)
- Open humanitarian access to Gaza (American Friends Service Committee)
- Oppose ground invasion of Gaza by Israel (American Friends Service Committee)
- Ceasefire now (Adalah Justice Project)
- Stop funding Israel’s massacres in Gaza (US Campaign for Palestinian Rights)
Enter your information and click “call me” and you’ll be connected to your representative and can read the provided script (and adapt as you’d like).
Attend a Protest
- Listing of protests (US Campaign for Palestinian Rights)
- Listing of Jewish Voice for Peace protests (Jewish Voice for Peace)
- March on Washington being planned for November 4
Donate to Aid
- “Another Son Is Killed” hymn by Carole Winfrey Gillette
- “Prayers for Peace in the midst of the Israel – Palestine War” based on Bruce Cockburn’s “Lover’s In a Dangerous Time” by Sylvia Keesmaat
These are statements from PPF and other groups from October 2023:
- Friends of Sabeel North America (and others), October 16
- Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches, October 13
- Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, October 10
- Fellowship of Reconciliation, October 7
These are from within the PC(USA):
- Statement from Stated Clerk of the General Assembly on October 13, 2023
- Overture passed in 2022 by the General Assembly: “A Call for Ending the Siege of Gaza and Collective Punishment of Innocent Palestinian and Israeli Citizens”
- Overture passed in 2022 by the General Assembly: “On Recognition That Israel’s Laws, Policies, and Practices Constitute Apartheid Against the Palestinian People”