Thursday, 22 May 2008

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Archbishop Alan Harper presents the Church of Ireland interfaith guidelines to the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, the Right Revd Dr Munib Younan, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Photograph: Susan Hood)

Patrick Comerford

The Churches in Israel and Palestine have invited Christians around the world to pray with them “the Jerusalem Prayer” for a just peace on Sunday 8 June. Last week, the General Synod of the Church of Ireland unanimously passed a special motion urging every church and parish to use the prayer as part of their liturgy and worship on that day.

The Christians who live in the Holy Land have been reduced to a tiny minority of 2% of the people. Yet, they are “living stones” who continue to live, worship and preserve the holiest places for Christians.

The International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel, running from 4 to 10 June is a joint advocacy initiative convened by the World Council of Churches.

As part of that ecumenical initiative, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have issued an invitation through the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre, asking us to pray with them on Sunday 8 June using “The Jerusalem Prayer.”

The Jerusalem Prayer

Heavenly Father,
We give you thanks and praise for your gift to us of your only Son, Jesus –
His birth in Bethlehem,
His ministry throughout the Holy Land,
His death on the Cross
and His Resurrection and Ascension.
He came to redeem this land and the world.
He came as the Prince of Peace.
We give thanks to you for every church and parish around the world that is praying with us this day for peace.
Our Holy City and our land are much in need of peace.
In your unfathomable mystery and love for all, let the power of your Redemption and your Peace transcend all barriers of cultures and religions and fill the hearts of all who serve you here, of both peoples – Israeli and Palestinian – and of all religions.
Send us political leaders ready to dedicate their lives to a just peace for their peoples.
Make them courageous enough to sign a treaty of peace that puts an end to the occupation imposed by one people on another, granting freedom to Palestinians, giving security to Israelis and freeing us all from fear.
Give us leaders who understand the holiness of your city and will open it to all its inhabitants – Palestinian and Israeli – and to the world.
In the land you made holy, free all of us from the sin of hatred and killing.
Free the souls and hearts of Israelis and Palestinians from this sin.
Give liberation to the people of Gaza who live under unending trials and threats.
We trust in you, Heavenly Father.
We believe you are good and we believe that your goodness will prevail over the evils of war and hatred in our land.
We seek your blessing especially on the children and young people, that their fear and the anxiety of conflict may be replaced with the joy and happiness of peace.
We pray too for the elderly and the handicapped, for their well-being and for the contribution they can make to the future of this land.
We pray, finally, for the refugees in the various camps and abroad that they may reclaim their rights and return to their homeland.
All this we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.


The leaders of the four main Churches in Ireland – Archbishop Alan Harper of Armagh (Church of Ireland), Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh (Roman Catholic), the Revd Roy Cooper (President of the Methodist Church) and the Dr John Finlay (Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church) – visited Palestine and Israel last month.

While the Church leaders were visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Archbishop Harper presented a copy of the Church of Ireland Guidelines for Interfaith Events and Dialogue to local Church leaders.

The interfaith guidelines, which were launched recently by the Minister for Integration, Mr Conor Lenihan, are available at: http://www.ireland.anglican.org/index.php?do=information&id=158

The Church leaders also visited Bethlehem and Jerusalem and refugee camps. They met Israelis and Palestinians – Jews, Christians and Muslims – and took part in a Service for Hope at the Shepherd’s Field, near Bethlehem. That service in Bethlehem captures the essence of the Church leaders’ visit, and is available on the RTÉ website: http://www.rte.ie/radio1/religion/Bethlehem2008.html

The Jerusalem Prayer is also available here.

Archbishop Alan Harper of Armagh presenting a Celtic Cross of Commitment to Bishop Suheil Dawani, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem (Photograph: Susan Hood)

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation, the Church of Ireland Theological College