"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Lord, do not harden Pharaoh's heart
Lord, each of us is often a Pharoah, demanding the slavery of those who share our domains. Today, many of your children in Israel have become Pharoahs to the children of Lebanon and Gaza and their hearts are wrapped in cordite. Break open our encased hearts, O Lord, and make them flow with compassion for all people, not merely our own people. We wish not the death of the Pharoahs, but that they might find their true life which is hidden in you.
"On a mountain road just south of here, a convoy of Lebanese villagers was fleeing north shortly after the war began. They had heard Israeli soldiers telling them to evacuate. Suddenly, a rocket struck a pickup truck full of people. Twenty-one people were killed, more than half of them children.
Israel said it believed the convoy was transporting rockets. The convoy had not notified Israel that it was going to make the trip. Those who survived said in interviews that they were simply following Israeli orders to flee the south as best they could."
On the day you hear my voice, harden not your hearts.
"In one of the worst atrocities since the war began, an Israeli air strike claimed the lives of over 33 farm workers, blown to pieces as they loaded plums and peaches onto trucks at a farm warehouse in the far north of the Bekaa Valley, near the Syrian border. At least another 20 people were wounded in the attack. Most of the victims were Syrian Kurds. They were taken across the border to Syrian hospitals, because previous bombing raids had demolished roads leading to hospitals in Lebanon itself."
"This massacre of farm workers followed airstrikes that systematically demolished bridges on the main coastal highway linking Beirut and the Lebanese south to the northern half of the country. Marking the first major attacks on the predominantly Christian North, these attacks served to cut the country in two and to cut off the sole remaining lifeline for relief supplies from abroad. At least five people were killed in these bombings, which were conducted during the morning rush hour, including motorists who were crushed to death as the bridges were bombed from beneath them."
And what is the reaction of the orthodox, conservative Christian who places the crucified one at the center of our religion? Adventus perhaps said it best, "Comfortable middle-class Xians don't need apocalyptic literature because life is just dandy, and promises to be better in the sweet bye and bye. If others are suffering, we (us middle-class Xians) are sweetly oblivious to it, or figure God will reward them in the after life (or, more darkly, that they deserve it. Everybody likes karma because it seems to work so well for them!) This world, in other words, is passing away, but since we find it a comfortable place, we don't mind waiting a while for the passing, and we know what comes next will be even better!" Here, indeed, is a religion that fits right in with a narcissistic ethic that focuses exclusively on me and my immediate circumstances, regarding everything else with varying degrees of unreality. But God has not called us to be as psychologically comfortable as possible, as satisfied with our life as we can possibly be - he has called us to bear not merely our own sorrows, but those of others as well.
"[The disciples] simply bear the suffering which comes their way as they try to follow Jesus Christ, and bear it for his sake. Sorrow cannot tire them or wear them down, it cannot embitter them or cause them to break down under the strain; far from it, for they bear their sorrow in the strength of him who bears them up, who bore the whole suffering of the world upon the cross. They stand as the bearers of sorrow in the fellowship of the Crucified: they stand as strangers in the world in the power of him who was such a stranger to the world that it crucified him." Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship.
Pray that the hearts of the Pharoahs in Washington and Tel Aviv will soon melt with the compassion and humility of our Lord.