While I am in Israel, we had a meeting this week with Malekite Orthodox Archbishop Elias Chacour, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of the Mar Elias School in Ibiline. He issued some challenges and classic quotes, some real gems, to our group that I think make good staring points for us in Lent.
Whatever you're fasting from, or growing toward, or adding to your spiritual routine in this season, the Archbishop offers this:
"There are no others, just sisters -- and brothers.
"My life's work is first and foremost Jesus Christ himself. I see him in every Muslim, in every Palestinian Christian, in every Israeli Jew I meet. My life's work is to win their hearts.
"Israel is just about 70 years old. Who was here before then?
"460 villages were destroyed and people thrown out. Palestinians became refugees, deportees.
"We need unity within the diversity.
"Most Palestinians have no nationality - just tolerated, not accepted.
"We're not in the promised land; we are in the land of promises.
"God does not kill. God is love.
"Education is more important than any law.
"How can I be a good Christian without opening my doors to non-Christians?
"Jews and Palestinians are one. We'll live together or die together.
"Is your Christianity like a chameleon? Or are you ready to raise hell for Christ?
Raise hell when hell needs to be raised.
"I beg from you three things: I need your friendship; I need your solidarity; and I need you to question all your convictions so far concerning Jews and Palestinians.
"You reduce your integrity, your dignity if you choose one side against the other.
"Why must the victim continue to pay the price?"
Here's a suggestion. Let's take a moment today, and maybe every day during Lent to ponder and mediate one or two of these both in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict and in our own context. Let us be makers of peace in this season.
May there be no others.
Grace and peace from Palestine/Israel,