Here is 'The Messenger' downloable for free: November Magazine.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
We’ve entered the month of remembrance: All Saints, All Souls, and, of course, Remembrance Sunday. It is always necessary to remember important events which have gone before, because, as has been said, those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. This year we studied on Sundays, and in our bible reflection group, the Book of Exodus the historical account of the Jewish people and their God, our God, who saved them from genocide. There was much we learnt in our studies about the God of Love who is the God of Justice; about the call on each person to respond to the Lord; about the need to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves; and about the openness of the People of God to all who choose to follow the Lord regardless of ethnicity or background. Sadly though the lessons of the Book of Exodus seem to have been forgotten by the world and therefore we are in danger of making the same mistakes.
As I write this editorial Jewish people are being held captive in Gaza, are being shelled in Israel, and in the UK Jewish schools are closing because students don’t feel safe. With all this going on we might begin to wonder if not only the genocide in Egypt at the time of the Exodus has been forgotten, but also the Holocaust of the twentieth century. In fact, sadly, there is a repeated theme throughout history that the Jewish people have been victimised and oppressed, and unfortunately the twenty-first century seems no different. If it were merely terrorists in one part of the world this would be bad enough, however, the reaction of parts of the population of Western countries, including our own has been horrific. Jewish people attacked in Britain simply for being Jewish. This shouldn’t be acceptable to any person in our country, and it certainly isn’t acceptable for Christians. The Jewish people are our ‘older brothers’ in terms of faith; they followed God long before any of us; through them came salvation as, remember, Jesus is Jewish; and our prayer should be that one day we will be united with them before God’s throne. Racism, including anti-Semitism is always wrong, and we as those who follow Jesus must ensure there is no place for it in the Church or in our nation.
Another lesson we’ve learnt from the Book of Exodus is that God cares for all who are oppressed. In our studies we learnt that the word ‘Hebrew’ initially meant the 'oppressed', those at the bottom of society. The Palestinian people in Gaza certainly fall into this category and are as much victims of the Hamas terrorists as the Jewish people. The vast majority of Palestinians don’t support the terrorist attacks suffered by Israel, and now, as a direct result of Hamas’ actions, are suffering even more. As the Jewish military seek to stop terrorist attacks on their homeland and recover the hostages which are being held, Palestinians will sadly end up homeless and without the necessary aid they need. The Palestinian people, some of whom are Christians, must also be in our thoughts and prayers and we must stand against racism which victimises them, as much as the racism of anti-Semitism which victimises Jews. The Church has a unique part to play as the death of Jesus paved the way for the coming together of Jews and non-Jews in a brotherhood of love. As St Paul wrote in Ephesians 2: ‘[Jesus] is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, […] His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross’. The Cross of Christ makes peace possible. The Cross of Christ can make brothers out of enemies. The Cross of Christ can bring Jew and Palestinian together under God. However, the only way this can happen is if Christians share their faith, in words and in deeds.
Brothers and sisters, pray for the Jewish people, pray for the Palestinian people; and where you see racism/anti-Semitism stand against it and call it out. Let us show that we have learnt lessons from our studies in the Book of Exodus which are as necessary today as they have been in the past.
Yours in Christ,