Jewish – Christian Dialogue

Over the next couple of days, I will be participating in a Jewish – Christian dialogue at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This conversation has been underway for several years now and is made up of Christians from various member communions of the National Council of Churches and Jewish leaders from such major organizations as the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, B’nai Brith and others.

The attempt is to once again strengthen Jewish – Christian relations which has become strained in recent years because of disagreements over the Middle East. Clear in our support of Israel’s right to exist and flourish within secure borders, Christians are also concerned about the plight of the Palestinians and particularly Palestinian Christians who are leaving the Holy Land in record numbers because of the ongoing conflict there and despair over any apparent solution.

Christians and Jews share so much in common and have stood together for so many years in the country around fighting anti-Semitism, the civil rights struggle, and often issues of war and peace as well. It is sad to experience estrangement over differing perspectives on some aspects of the peace process in the Middle East.

Our group has made good progress even including a joint trip to the Holy Land where Jews could show Christians what they wanted us to see and we could show our Jewish colleagues what we wanted them to see. We have discussed such volatile issues as Christian Zionism, Palestinian Liberation theology, and just what a “two state” solution might look like.

We have wrestled together with how to understand the Old and New Covenants and just what it might mean to say — as Vatican II (and St. Paul!) did clearly — that God’s Covenant with the Jewish people is “irrevocable.”   One thing we know: Christians are “branches grafted on to the root of Israel” and we are bound together in adoration and service of the One True God.

May that which binds us together keep us faithful to God and to one another.

 

 

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