People gathered online and in-person to pray, advocate, and stand in solidarity with people in the Holy Land.
The World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel is being observed this year from 16-23 September under the theme “No place to lay my head,” a theme that reflects the challenge for Palestinian families as well as other people facing difficulties to a uniting home.
WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay opened the prayer with a greeting, noting that the theme is “deeply rooted in the suffering of the Palestinian people.”
Pillay reflected on the profound importance of land. “The right of family for home is indeed sacred,” he said, noting “the pain of a people who for decades have yearned for a place to lay their heads in peace.
“Their lands are taken, their homes are demolished, their rights for security and dignity are taken,” Pillay said. “When we deny people their land, we strip away their roots and their sense of belonging.”
His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilus III of Jerusalem and of all Palestine shared a homily in which he reflected that people who live in the Holy Land are the living witnesses of the divine-human encounter.
“The Holy Land is the home to all people of good will, and there is room for all,” he said. “For centuries the Holy Land has been a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious civilisation, and though there are some radical groups who now seek to change this and to alter the integrity of the Holy Land, we are witnesses to a sacred history that embraces all the children of the monotheistic faiths.”
The Patriarch expressed concern that, without this diversity of life and faith in the Holy Land, the region will lose its fundamental character and mission. “Our Lord Jesus Christ may have had nowhere to lay his head, but we have both a real and a spiritual home in the Holy Land because of this divine-human encounter, a home on earth that points to our heavenly home and to the common human destiny that we all share,” he said. “We pray and work earnestly and without ceasing for peace in the Holy Land.”
During the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, which includes the International Day of Prayer for Peace on 21 September, church organizations, congregations, and people of faith are encouraged to bear a common witness by participating in worship services, educational events, and acts of support in favor of peace and justice for Palestinians and Israelis.
Congregations and individuals around the globe who share the hope of justice will unite during the week to take peaceful actions, together, to create a common international public witness.