Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson is Senior Pastor Grace Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon, NY
Our televisions and social media feeds are full of news from Israel and Palestine and the recent declaration of war. To people of many faiths this land is culturally rich, historically significant, and sacred ground. Scenes of explosions and sounds of sirens disturb us deeply as we grieve the loss of life, captive taking, and the withholding of basic necessities of life.
Over 2,000 civilian lives were lost on top of military casualties. 5,000+ people are injured needing immediate care. Another 250,000 people are displaced with numbers expected to increase. Global health experts remind us that on top of the tangible loss and physical toll there is a tremendous impact on the mental health of those who experience war, especially children.
As people of faith, we turn to the practice of lament that guides our prayers and leads us to action. We join our voice with the Psalmist, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!” (Psalm 130:1) May God hear the voices of those in Israel and Palestine experiencing unprecedented suffering and escalating violence. May the cries of our partners and care for humanity lead us from prayer to action.
We cry aloud for the devastation that has occurred and the fear of what might be.
We lament the lost lives of civilians, sojourners, military personnel, journalists, and aid workers.
For the injured, kidnapped, and refugees we pray.
We cry aloud for those whose homes have been destroyed and those who have been forced to leave their homes for safer ground.
We lament the impact of war on families who become fractured or separated. Political leaders declare war, civilians pay the price.
We cry aloud for those who feel forgotten, helpless, abandoned, and trapped within their own land.
We are saddened by a delay in a peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors. We decry the withholding of food, water, electricity, and medical supplies for people already devastated by isolation and embargo.
We decry the actions of Hamas on Israeli citizens and the violent retaliation of Israel against the Palestinian people.
We decry our own nation’s involvement in the region to provide peace and stability, but instead causes increased militarism and division.
For world powers to eagerly enforce peace between Israel and its neighbors, we pray.
In our lament we confess that we have not listened to our partners first nor the people of Israel and Palestine. We have leaned into our settler-colonial ways believing that we held solutions for other peoples and lands. We have trusted military might when God calls us toward diplomacy and peaceful protest. We confess that we are all too often egocentric putting ourselves, our families, and our nation’s needs before those of Palestinian people and Israeli peace and human rights organizations. In our lament we pause to pray and move to more just actions.