During May the Friends of the Holy Land (FHL) team met with the Archbishop of Canterbury in Bethlehem. The Archbishop, also an FHL patron, was on a 12-day visit to the Middle East, and made time in his busy schedule to meet with us and catch up on our work. After a breakfast meeting he went on to visit the home of FHL beneficiary Anwar Jackaman. Anwar’s situation was made known to FHL in 2014 when, as a wheel chair user, he was confined to a single room. Thanks to the generosity of FHL’s donors, his living quarters have been completely remodelled to suit his mobility needs, something that Anwar, who earns a modest income repairing electrical appliances, could not have afforded himself. The Archbishop said, ‘I am very pleased to be a patron to the Friends of the Holy Land. I support the essential work this charity is doing in the Holy Land, giving practical help and moral support to those in the greatest need.’
The Archbishop also met families from Beit Jala, divided from their land by the Wall of Separation. After hearing about the challenges they face, the Archbishop prayed at the wall for peace. The Archbishop said, ‘You cannot come and hear the testimonies I heard, you cannot hear from the people who live here without your heart becoming heavier and heavier, and more and more burdened with that sense of a people whose history has led them to a place where all they have known is disintegrating. As always in these times, it is the weak, the poor who are shoved to one side. The emotional reaction is of profound grief and sorrow.’
Here are the prayers that Archbishop Justin offered at the wall in Beit Jala, to provide inspiration for your own:
‘God of Peace, we pray that you will encourage those who seek to establish a fair and just peace for all people in this land. Bless their efforts as they work to end conflict. Let those who engage in violence put down their weapons and live in peace with one another. Amen.’
‘God of Justice, strengthen the resolve of those who work for peace in the face of seemingly endless violence. Guide the leaders of the peoples of Palestine and Israel to know your will and to find solutions for a just peace for all your children.
‘We lift up the Holy Land, which is holy for all human beings. Breathe love and compassion into our prayers. Give effect to our advocacy. Strengthen our compassion. Heal the wounds caused by conflict. We long to understand that which is often beyond our comprehension.
‘We lay before you the hearts, minds and bodies of all those suffering from conflict in the occupied Palestine territories and Israel and from the ongoing occupation. Shower upon all the people of this holy land the spirit of justice and reconciliation.
‘Give to all our people the blessings of well-being, freedom and harmony. And above all give hope to the people of Beit Jala – that faced with so much suffering, anguish and loss, they may know that the Christ of the cross and of the empty tomb stands with them in love, and that his people care for them and remember them. We pray all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.’