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Pray for Peace in Jerusalem (video)

Three years ago, my heart pulled me to Israel and Palestine to experience the reality of this iconic conflict for myself, talk to Israelis and Palestinians, and search for ways to support peace. It is one of the hardest places I've ever been, where CryPeace means crying more tears and crying louder for justice than almost anywhere else. This week, as renewed tensions escalate over Jerusalem, my heart breaks that this city, holy to all three Abrahamic faiths, is a cause of hatred instead of love, violence instead of peace, war instead of worship.

Advent Peace

It's advent - the season of year when Christians await the coming of Jesus anew in our hearts, in remembrance of his birth over 2,000 years ago. To celebrate, we light a candle each Sunday - one for hope, one for peace, one for joy, and one for love. This Sunday, my church asked me to light the candle of peace. As someone called to be a peacemaker, I was grateful for the chance to share some of the stories and journies of peace I have made over the years. Let me share the highlights with you.

I Want (I Don't Want)

I don’t want our kids to meet at encounter groups, to learn to empathise with the “other”

I don’t want them to hear of the Holocaust, to learn how our homelands became our graves

I don’t want them to talk about the Nakba, the right of return, and how long it takes

I don’t want to fear that in my nascent country, we risk annihilation again

I don’t want to fear that in my exile, we risk losing the chance for a homeland


Throw love, not stones

Should I throw love over the wall instead of stones?

Chocolate kisses

Valentine hearts

Gifts on the strings of balloons?


Will you take the chocolates for stones

Respond with tear gas

Burn my eyes and nose?


I want to tear down this wall

Look into your eyes

And know you as friend, not enemy

May I have this dance?

I want to dance at the wall in beautiful protest
Cast a vision of the future in its shadow today

We could hear the same music, dance to the same beat
But I couldn’t see you, our hands couldn’t meet

We could set up a webcam, make a window in the wall
I’d rather you open it, I want to walk tall
through the gate that encloses me now like a prison
Let this vision of the future shine bright as through a prism

The Cage

I live in a cage with very prevalent walls
that block me in and hide the sun

I rail at them, throw rocks and stones
Must you respond with bombs? 

You hold the power of whether I can wash, or work
Whether I can skype with my aunt, or visit the day of her birth

You say yes to my brother, and no to me
Must you put my parents in such misery?

I rail at the wall with rocks and stones
You hold the power to tear it down

Will you?

Pray for Peace at Christmas

It’s Christmas – the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus two millennia ago. One of the carols we often sing is, “O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see they lie.” Until this year I envisioned a peaceful village when I sang it, replete with angelic choirs, awestruck shepherds, and the blessed Virgin Mary and Joseph admiring the newborn baby Jesus. This summer I imagined myself celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem this year, anticipating my visit to Palestine.

Let’s be soldiers in the army of love

My grandfather’s village is just down the road
It’s blessed with the richest of olive groves
On Fridays when grandfather takes me on his knee
I feel the shade of a tree that I’ve never seen
I’m fighting for freedom, peace and security
I’ll never forget what they’ve stolen from me
Wrongs like these must be avenged  
I will not rest until they taste just revenge
We’re fighting for freedom in a just war

Two Boys, Two Dreams

I saw two films at the Jayu Human Rights Film Festival today, both first-person accounts from eloquent boys. Faridullah's Day Off was a touching account of a young boy from Afghanistan who dreams of going to school, instead of the brick factory, when the muezzen's call to prayer awakens the family each day. Rising in the darkness, the whole family - from the 5-year-old daughter to the father - march to work in the barren, exposed wasteland in which they make bricks.

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