Luke 19:41 makes me ache every time I read it: As he [Jesus] came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!”
Coinciding with United Nations’ International Day of Peace, September 21 is recognized as Peace Sunday in many Mennonite circles. See Leroy Seat’s blog post to learn more about the Week for Peace (Sept. 21-27) sponsored by World Council of Churches.
This morning many Mennonite churches worldwide used worship materials provided by the Peace and Justice Support Network. Of particular concern right now to PJSN (and the world) is the on-going violence and unrest in Jerusalem. Therefore, worship materials this year focused primarily on “Prayers for the Peace of Jerusalem.”
Our church retreat scheduled for this weekend prevented us from using these worship materials this morning. However, we will have our own version of “Prayers for the Peace of Jerusalem” on November 16. Why? I will be in Israel/Palestine October 31-November 12 participating in a learning tour thanks to the generosity and priorities of Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Church USA.
I imagine I will be aching many times on that trip and for a variety of reasons. I also hope to go with a spirit of courage, hope and imagination. Every day until leaving on this trip I will hold this tile gifted to me by Patty Shelly as a reminder of such hope. Here is what Patty writes about this particular tile:
The image is a variation of the “tree of life” motif that is very common in the Middle East, especially in Jordan and Palestine. Sometimes the images focus on fruitfulness and abundance (like the one here) and sometimes they focus on life as both joyful and tragic. Armenian Christians in Jerusalem from the 4th century onward used a lot of “tree of life” images in their mosaics…As I look at this specific tile, it seems to me to be a lively artistic presentation or a “mash up” of a fig tree (the round purple fruit with the yellow tops) and probably a date palm (the hanging clusters on the side). I also wonder if they could be grapes, as in “vine and fig tree” as a symbol of peace and prosperity. The blue stream in the middle makes me think of Revelation 22 and the river of the water of life with the tree of life growing on the banks of either side of the river, whose leaves are for “the healing of the nations.” Then again, I may be barking up the wrong tree!