Letters - 27 October 2023

From Coexist in peace to Inclusion with Quakers

Coexist in peace

Quakers are used to reading and listening to many things that challenge ideas and are good at responding, I find.

I shall take up Ol Rappaport’s invitation to read Israelophobia (6 October) and hope in reply he will accept my invitation to read Nathan Thrall’s A Day in the Life of Abed Salama.

We are fortunate to be in a place where we are able to exchange opinions and learn about the lives of others by means of pen, paper, email, telephone and post.

Long may it continue so that we can discover the true state of affairs together and begin to coexist in peace.

Jennifer Bell

A call to prayer

On Sunday Francis, the pope, invited ‘all believers to join with the Church in the Holy Land and to dedicate next Tuesday, 17 October, to prayer and fasting’. He said, ‘Prayer is the meek and holy force to oppose the diabolical force of hatred, terrorism, and war.’ (See https://onefamilyinmission.org/pope-francis-i-invite-you-to-pray-for-peace-in-the-holy-land.) I’m following the invitation today.

At the beginning of the 1980s a few people, mostly young, began holding prayers for peace on Monday evenings in the Church of Saint Nicholas in Leipzig. At that time Leipzig was on the eastern side of the iron curtain which divided Germany and Europe between the two power blocks, NATO and the Warsaw Treaty Organisation. And the nuclear powers were building up their nuclear arsenals. No one imagined then that less than ten years later the division of Germany and Europe would be overcome. In October 1989 thousands of people in Leipzig defied the authorities and held their weekly Monday demonstrations following evening prayers for peace in half-a-dozen churches in the city. On 18 October 1989, Egon Krenz replaced the detested Erich Honecker as general secretary of the Socialist Unity Party, but the communist regime crumbled within a couple of months.

What would happen if not only Christians but also Jews and Muslims throughout the world were to follow Francis’ call to prayer and fasting? The weapons won’t suddenly fall silent during this coming week. But at least our prayers and fasting won’t have done anyone any harm. I shall pray and fast again next Tuesday. And on the Tuesday after that. And every Tuesday, as long as my health allows. Who knows? Maybe one day, a Tuesday, so many believers – Christian, Jewish and Muslim – will be praying and fasting that only a few join in the slaughtering. Dwight D Eisenhower once said, ‘I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of the way and let them have it.’

Jesus told his disciples that some evil spirits can only be cast out through prayer. (Mark 9:29).

Maybe war and violence can only be overcome through prayer and fasting – and love of enemies.
Shalom! Salaam!

Gordon Matthews

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