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Station 3

Solidarity

We arrive before an ancient olive tree in central Gaza. The tree is surrounded by scenes of Palestinian mourning, but also of resilience. To the far south, you spot a tent city–a refugee camp for decades, it is now also hosting tens of thousands of newly displaced people from northern and central Gaza. If you listen carefully, you might hear the sounds of a children’s program–resourceful young people by the hundreds are leading ad hoc programs for the younger children in these camps with singing, dancing, and face painting. They hope beyond hope to help the children cope with the hellish world around them and to blunt the trauma.

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You look down the street and see a large crowd gathered around a makeshift water desalination unit. They’ve come with their jugs, buckets, and bowls to get a little water for their families. 

 

Another direction and you see rows of tree stumps. Without electricity and fuel, people are cutting down the trees of Gaza for firewood. It is all they have to boil the water they need for sanitizing and cooking. 

Everywhere you look, you see evidence of devastating war, but also Palestinian determination to survive and to stay rooted to their homeland. Palestinians call this determination sumud. Like this tree that has survived the bombs and the axes, firmly rooted for centuries in this ground. Palestinians are committed to the ground in which they are rooted.

 

As we pause to pray amidst these scenes of sumud, let us take a posture of solidarity with all who suffer and struggle. We wish to uphold Palestinians in their sumud.

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Prayers

Psalm 61: 1-3

Hear my cry, O Lord; attend unto my prayer.

From the end of the earth will I cry out to thee, 

and when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, that is higher than I. 

Sumud

Eternal God, we come before you now broken over what is occurring in Gaza. From the depths of our hearts, we cry out in lament for your mercy in Gaza.

As Hagar said, you are the God who sees.

You see the death raining down on Gaza today, and our country's complicity, supporting, participating in, and some even glorying in. 

Yet somehow the people Gaza of are still standing, standing in your strength, standing through their faith.

How many horrific scenes have we witnessed where through their tears of anguish they cry out to you, giving glory to you, acknowledging your steadfastness and love. 

Children trapped under the rubble of their home reminding their siblings to pray, 

 

Mothers clinging to the body of their lost babies, wailing to the world their faith in you. 

Fathers clawing at the rubble, a tomb for their family, sobbing that the only thing they have left is you.

Be comfort and strengthen for them, God, while all they see is darkness and death. 

 

As they seek to find shelter, only to hear the bombs begin again and having to move once more,

 

As they seek to find food and water, waiting for hours only to be told there is none, or to be met with bullets instead of bread.

 

As they document the horrific horrors, not allowing the world to turn a blind eye to the living tragedy that is their daily life, leaving not one with the excuse, “I didn’t know”.

Sumud, a word that means steadfast, determined, resolved.

They are determined to survive, determined to stay in their homeland.

 

So let us also hold onto our faith, standing before you in similar determination, to not grow weary of speaking out, to not grow weary of standing in protest, to not grow weary.

 

And God we pray for an end to this genocidal slaughter, and for a true, and lasting ceasefire.

For you to break through the hardened hearts of our leaders and their commitment to supplying the weapons and bombs to Israel no matter the cost.

For your justice to put an end to the occupation, an end to the illegal settlements, and to provide true structural change for all Palestinians so they too can live in freedom and peace.

Hear our cry, Oh Lord.

Amen

 

We are grateful to Sarah Sullivan for writing this liturgy and being the first to offer it as a prayer.

Refaat Alareer, 1979 - 2023

Professor, poet, and activist, Refaat Alareer wrote this poem soon before his death. He was killed with his family in an air strike in Gaza on December 6, 2023.

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If I Must Die
by Refaat Alareer

If I must die,

you must live

to tell my story

to sell my things

to buy a piece of cloth

and some strings,

(make it white with a long tail)

so that a child, somewhere in Gaza

while looking heaven in the eye

awaiting his dad who left in a blaze–

and bid no one farewell

not even to his flesh

not even to himself–

sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above

and thinks for a moment an angel is there

bringing back love

If I must die

let it bring hope

let it be a tale

For Gaza: Psalm 46 (excerpts)

From Jewish Prayers for Gaza, prayersforgaza.com

 

For the people of Gaza, a song:

 

We will not look away
we see you everywhere
even as the bombs rain down
even as the earth gives way beneath you,
even as they drive you from your homes.

 

There is a river whose streams
will one day bring rejoicing back
to your land,
morning will dawn and light
will come streaming in to every home.

 

I will bring you into the stillness
of my embrace
and you will know that I am with you
I will lift you up among the nations
I will return you in dignity and in love.

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