From the Pastor
Brothers and Sisters in Christ
By the time you read this letter, events will have continued to unfold. I am writing this on October 14, 2023. The violence in the Middle East create in us a great conflict between our commitment as Christians to peace and our knowledge that Israel is the chosen nation of God.
Hamas viciously and mercilessly attacked them. Israel is now engaged in a war of self-defense which tragically will lead to the death of thousands of innocent Palestinians among whom the Hamas fighters are hiding. In addition to the over three thousand dead and wounded on both sides, Hamas has taken hostages of various nationalities including Americans. These are terrible times.
How should we as Christians and Methodist confronted by evil respond to these world events. Our Savior Jesus Christ has taught us to love our enemies and to not seek revenge. Our hearts must not be blackened by animosity for a people when the true villains are a small group of militants. Hamas does not represent all Islamic people. It is impossible, however, for ordinary citizens such as us to distinguish between the good and the evil. We should trust in the Lord that His will be done in this horrific matter.
Our prayers should be for a swift peace and security for Israel and that this war does not expand. Justice is elusive and beyond human understanding. Having myself participated in wars against terrorism in the Middle East, I am deeply troubled and seek the guidance of God.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time such atrocities have been inflicted by terrorist nor will it be the last. Currently, I feel helpless to affect the events in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
What does God say about Israel? Genesis 12:3 states: "I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Psalm 25:22 says: "Redeem Israel, 0 God, out of all his troubles." 1 Chronicles 17:9 states: "And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall waste them no more, as formerly,"
What does God say about peace? Peace is a fruit of the spirit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22. We must seek peace and make peace. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:8 So then, let us pursue what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19. The context of Paul's letter to the Romans is not entirely apt, but the Lord is speaking to us through these passages now.
What then shall we do? Pray for peace and pray for God's justice. And pray for Israel for they are God's chosen people always. Pray for the hostages and for all the innocents caught up in this war. I pray that each of you will be comforted in this time by the sure and certain knowledge of the Grace of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Peace and God Bless.