Monday, January 31, 2011

Peace in the Middle East

I remember as a child when Desert Storm stole the fathers of some of my friends in elementary school. We didn't know what the Operation was about or really where the "Middle East" was, but it became common playground lingo to toss up a casual, "Peace in the Middle East," in our most adult voices. While most of my friends' dads returned, the confusion of that place had plagued me well into adulthood.

I've tried to understand the War in Iraq and the accusations some conservative news networks paint as Israeli and Muslim problems (as though the two terms are interchangeable). I've looked at maps as I've read and my twitter feed as they light up with violence and conflict and tragedy... but somehow that hazy cloud of misunderstanding has remained.

But there's one thing most children can relate to: the dream of becoming an archeologist. The pyramids, King Tut, mummies, treasures buried in the sand... Aladdin... okay, I know that Disney doesn't put it all into perspective, but there are major parts of American childhood from the 1990s that include middle eastern interest!

That's why this conflict in Egypt has suddenly piqued my interest so heavily. I do not claim to fully understand what is going down, but I am trying hard to find the news. I'm hitting my knees in prayer for the people whose lives have gone from somewhat normal to absolute frightening chaos. I've read accounts of men-- fathers, brothers, husbands-- patrolling the streets to keep their houses, neighborhoods and families safe. I've read about the internet being shut down and thanked God that I've been able to use this same tool to read about the conflict and strife in Egypt. I've found the sites that are helpful in breaking down what is actually happening: like this site. And I've even been humbled by a blogger when I dare critique American news for failing to really tell the depth of this "conflict" in Egypt.

Even our bishop has written a response to make clear the depth and need for prayer as well as accounting for our own Lutheran brothers and sisters living in Cairo in the midst of this.

I'm still searching for words. I'm still sorting through emotions... but I'm finally getting it. I'm finally becoming more than a contented naive American who is invested in the lives and welfare of her fellow human beings.

And I can't help but see the fingerprints from Sunday's Gospel stamped all over this issue...

When Jesus
saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Tonight, as I sort through this, I pray for the peacemakers & the persecuted. I pray for those who are reviled as were the prophets in the midst of proclaiming the Gospel. I pray for the poor in spirit who lack hope, for those who mourn, the meek and those who stand in the midst of chaos and violence, hungering and thirsting for righteousness.

It's not much... but, for now, it's all I can do.

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