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Station 5

Going with Gaza

We have arrived in Rafah. It is a small city overflowing with the refugees of Gaza. More than half of all Gazans are in the streets of Rafah.

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The infrastructure here cannot support so many. The streets are host to all of life, to the children, the old, the dead; to latrines and aid; to playing and weeping. Take a moment to imagine what you see and hear among these tents.

It is an onslaught of humanity and noise. Imagine now what you smell. And the taste of the air. And how you feel. 

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As we depart Gaza, Rafah is hard to leave. There are so many people here and no one knows what their lives will hold.

What do you pray at this moment of departure?

 

Now we have returned to Chicago, and you are back home. But home can never be the same. We now see Gaza is part of our homes and our homes are part of Gaza. From now on, we can never completely rest without thinking about our concern for Gaza.

Prayers

From Jewish Prayers for Gaza, prayersforgaza.com

Blessed is the light
that illumines the path to Olam Haba
the World to Come:

where bombs falling from above
have long since melted into the spreading calm
of a distant horizon;
where the dispossessed and expelled
have no other memories than
the softness of arms reaching out
to welcome them home.

Blessed is the light
that shows us the way forward –
and blessed is Shabbat,
this moment filling us endlessly
with the vision of a world liberated,
inspiring us with the strength
to make it so.

God, we are a changed people.

 

Throughout the stories of Scriptures, people encounter you, and they are changed. They have new names; their faces are shining; they walk with a different bearing.

 

We cannot forget what we have witnessed in Gaza. We cannot forget because what is at stake is the very dignity, well being, and lives of precious humans created in your image. We cannot forget because the psalmist says you are "close to the brokenhearted." We cannot forget because, as we have learned from the preacher, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

 

And yet we know ourselves, and we know how easily we can forget.

 

We know how easily we become concerned with the mundane matters of our lives. We know how easily we get tired and turn our eyes away from suffering, and devastation, and injustice, and violence. We know how easily we grow overwhelmed with our own real suffering, the burdens of health and relationships and losses we carry on our own shoulders.

 

God, forgive us for our forgetfulness!

Turn our eyes, and our ears, and our hearts toward all the grace, and beauty, and loss, and agony of your children in Gaza!

 

As we return to our ordinary circumstances, please change our vision. May we see our comfortable homes and be reminded of so many houses and buildings that have been destroyed. May we notice our local infrastructure, as invisible as it often is, and be conscious of those who struggle to access necessities like water, food, medication, shelter, electricity, transportation, communication, and movement. May we see the people we love, and may we recognize in their eyes so very many people who have died, or are dying, or do not know what tomorrow will bring.

 

You love the people of Gaza; not only her people but her places, too, her waters and trees. You love them and grieve over their suffering. The psalmist also says you save "those who are crushed in spirit." Save them, we pray! And make us agents of your saving work in the world, wherever we have influence and power and means to affect change, however large or small. Increase our capacity to love people who are so far away from us. Help us to recognize how close they really are.

 

We ask that we would never be the same. We ask that our communities would never be the same.

 

Make us steadfast in bearing witness, praying, and advocating. 

 

Amen.

 

Thank you Brent Bailey for writing and praying elements of this liturgy first.

Ceasefire is a collaboration between Ayanna Gregory, Common Hymnal and a host of friends

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