Weeping Over Jerusalem

We are, of course, reading Lamentations during Morning Prayer in Holy Week. The prophet is weeping over the state of Jerusalem, saying among other things “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”
We traditionally apply that to those who “pass by” without recognizing Jesus’ suffering for us on the cross and that is, of course, a fruitful meditation. But we don’t really have to stretch it quite that far as we experience the suffering of Jerusalem today.
It just gets worse everytime I come.  Despair about the so-called peace process, more and more Jewish settlements built on Arab land, an increasing matrix of walls and tunnels and bridges which separate families and people from their work, fear of suicide bombers, and factionalism within both the Jewish and Palestinian communities. And, of course, alarmingly decreasing numbers of Christians in this Holy Land.
Yet, as we met with Bet Selem (a Jewish human rights organization documenting, cataloging and prosecuting instances of violence done to innocent people in the name of “homeland security”) and Sabeel (an ecumenical advocacy group committed to non-violent resistence to the Israeli occupation) it was amazing to see the deep faith, commitment, and even hope engendered by such efforts.
Perhaps even more amazing was visiting Bethlehem and getting re-acquainted with Mitri Raheb, a Lutheran pastor who has led his people to build an amazing development center out of “Christmas Lutheran Church” including a clinic, a two-year college focusing on the arts, and leadership development for Palestinian people. He is very worried about the future and viability of the “two state” solution, but continues to make a real difference in the lives of his people.
As we stooped to enter the Church of the Nativity and the Presiding Bishop led us in prayers at the site of the manger, I could not help but remember that the baby who was born in this vicinity grew up to “weep over Jerusalem.”
I think he is still weeping. 

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