On the evening of Christmas Eve, lovers of peace gathered in downtown Asheville at Pack Square to bear witness to the suffering of people in the Israel-Gaza conflict and to pray for a ceasefire to hostilities. The event was organized by Michael Morrell and Stephen Knight with about 30 people in attendance.
There is no way to escape the suffering of the people of the region. Even if one chooses to turn off the news, we are all connected in the oneness of the universe and the pain is in the heart, in the soul, in the essence of life. We bear witness to the evil impulse of revenge, of dehumanizing others. We pray for the oppressed and for the oppressor. We act to bring an end to the insanity as we are guided.
Below is the prayer read by Michael Morrell at the vigil:
O God of life and love and peace, We witness the violence and injustice in your Holy Land
And our hearts break.
Our hearts break for the people of Israel—We Americans know what it's like to not be represented by our governments.
And for the victims of violent attacks by Hamas
For those who live with fear and insecurity
For those who suffer from the inter-generational trauma of violence.
Our hearts break for Palestinians—For the victims of violent attacks by the Israeli military
For those being denied water, electricity and medical care
For those who are refugees, long displaced from their homes.
We especially pray—That weapons of war be laid down
That walls of separation be dismantled
That prisoners be released
That demonizing of “the other” cease
That political leaders seek the good of all people in Palestine and Israel.
O God, whose heart breaks for the world,
May your justice dwell in the land
May your righteousness abide in fruitful fields
May the effect of righteousness be quietness and trust forever
May the effect of justice be peace—enduring peace.
[This portion drawn from a Mennonite Central Committee prayer]
In the name of Mother Mary, who proclaimed the proud scattered, the mighty cast from their thrones, and the lowly lifted;
In the name of the Christ child, who grew up to free to prisoners, heal the sick, and release the bonds of oppression, we ask: May the story of Gaza be rewritten with a pen dipped in the ink of compassion rather than the blood of innocents,
And may the reverberations of our prayers resound in the hearts of all who yearn for the restorative justice that creates peace.
May it be so — Amen.