October 2023 Anglican Commentary: The Very Rev. Canon Richard Sewell

Shine on Those Who Dwell in Darkness and Guide Our Feet in the Way of Peace

Saturday, October 7th brought the darkest cloud upon the peoples of Israel and Palestine. The news is all about Gaza but the impact hits Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Haifa and every community of the Land of the Holy One. Indeed, the darkness has spread around the region, Lebanon, Jordan and reaches to every quarter of the world. These are dreadful and fearful days.

Our own Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza City has been impacted, receiving a missile hit which took hundreds of lives of people sheltering there. As film of all of this fills our news, discussion about the underlying issues and the rights and wrongs turn ugly. We tend to take sides, we incline to condemn the other side. We struggle to find the common ground of empathy and compassion.

Living in Jerusalem has rarely been this overwhelming in modern times although the city has probably been more fought over than any other city. Missiles have landed in Jerusalem fired from Gaza by Hamas. They are so imprecise that they are just as likely to kill Palestinians as Israeli Jews. Nevertheless, we have had to run for cover to our bomb shelter on several occasions.

People continue to ask me, where is God? Where is hope? Sometimes I find it hard to articulate. Pat answers from the Christianity Made Simple book just will not do. We have to dig deep, drawing from the tough reality of the God who offered himself on the cross to take on the powers of evil. On the cross Jesus looked defeated. But the Christian story does not end there. Every time we resist being overwhelmed by darkness and seek to walk in the way of peace, we echo that victory. I’m clinging onto that. It’s all I have.

Richard Sewell

Dean of St George’s College, Jerusalem

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