The 23rd of November marked Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. Although this holiday has virtuous elements of gratitude, family bonding, and thanksgiving for the harvest of the season, for Native Americans it is a “National Day of Mourning.” For Indigenous peoples, the day is a reminder of the genocide, dispossession of their homes and lands, and the continued violence on their culture and livelihood. It is also a chance to protest and raise awareness for the struggles of Native American tribes in the face of colonialism.
God of light, we join in mourning with our Native American brothers and sisters who continually suffer from colonial violence. We, like many other indigenous people groups around the globe, face a colonial structure of violence and erasure. Lord, give us strength as we face the storm and work to end all forms of colonial structures, ideologies, and actions which oppress natives around the world.
On October 26th, the leader of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem announced it would cancel a once-secret 2021 land lease deal with a real estate company that has alleged links to settler interests. Since then, contractors, armed settlers and bulldozers have been sent to seize the land – which, along with the parking lot, includes Armenian Church property and homes of several families. Despite this, the Armenian community in Jerusalem have remained steadfast in their protest and refuse to give in to the intimidation.
God of truth, the Armenian community has been in Jerusalem for at least 1600 years, contributing to the rich and beautiful mosaic of Christianity. Lord, we thank you for their resilience which exemplifies their connection to Jerusalem and love for their community. We pray that all threats on the Armenian property will be eliminated and may you sustain their presence in Jerusalem.
On the 23rd of November, Sabeel held their monthly women’s Bible Study in Terra Sancta Parish Center. This Bible Study is one of a series of sessions which offers space to interpret the Bible contextually, and prayerfully discuss the current reality. Sister Ghada Na’meh led the Bible session with the help of the Sabeel staff.
Jesus of Nazareth, you are the Word made flesh. Help us to hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the message of your goodness by meditating on the Holy witness of the Bible. May these Sabeel Bible lessons illuminate scripture’s message of liberation, resilience, and hope, making our faith meaningful to our present reality. Bless all who led and participated in the Bible lesson.
Israeli soldiers and settlers continue their raids and violent acts in many areas in the West Bank. This has resulted in the deaths of several young Palestinians, the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, especially in the refugee camps, and the incarceration of many without charge or trial. At least 400 Palestinians have died in the West Bank in 2023, with the death toll expected to rise every week.
All merciful God, we come before you proclaiming as that you are a “righteous judge and always condemn the wicked” (Psalm 7:11). Lord, we trust that your judgment will be dealt in the West Bank and that you will condemn the wicked. Help us to be salt and light for the oppressed. We pray that the day will come when we will thank you for your justice and praise you in songs of joy.
On the 20th of November, Friends of Sabeel North America, along with a diverse coalition of Christian voices, released a statement in response to the horrific situation in Palestine-Israel. In this statement, they call for an immediate ceasefire by all parties, adequate supply of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and accountability for the perpetrators and enablers of war crimes, in accordance with international law, amongst other demands to see the end of the oppression that Palestinians face.
God of the orphan, the widow, and the refugee, we thank you for all the voices that are calling for an immediate ceasefire and the implementation of international law. We remember your words in the book of prophet Micah, “What sorrow awaits you who lie awake at night, thinking up evil plans. You rise at dawn and hurry to carry them out, simply because you have the power to do so.” Lord, change the hearts and actions of those who perform injustice, and amplify the voices that are calling for righteousness, so that all may hear.
November 20th marked World Children’s Day, commemorating the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. At least 6000 children have died according to Palestinian officials since the 7th of October. Furthermore, at least 1,800 Palestinian children remain missing under the rubble, and thousands more are injured. All live in conditions that no child should ever live in. 28 out of the 39 premature babies born, have been evacuated to Egypt after they were left without incubators when al-Shifa Hospital ran short of fuel and medical supplies following the Israeli raid on the hospital.
Heavenly Father, since the 7th of October, your children in Gaza have been some of the most victimized. Each child killed, injured, trapped under the rubble, sick, or living in trauma, is known by you, including their innocent smiles and distinct talents that reflect your image. Lord, we plead for your compassion for the premature babies who are fighting for their lives. For all those mourning we hold on to your promise as mentioned in Isaiah 66:13 that, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…”. Lord in your mercy… hear our prayer
On the 22nd of November, Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day pause in their fighting. This agreement, which is subject to extension, includes the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons in exchange for 50 Israeli hostages held captive by Hamas in Gaza. Furthermore, under the terms of the truce, hundreds of trucks will be allowed to enter Gaza, carrying fuel, humanitarian and medical aid.
• All merciful God, although we are thankful for a temporary pause which will free prisoners and hostages, and allow some lifesaving aid into Gaza, we are not satisfied. Lord, grant us an unwavering spirit that continues to struggle for liberation, justice, and peace. We pray for a complete ceasefire of arms, as well as the end of oppressive ideologies, checkpoints, human rights violations, and anything which sustains and encourages hatred in our context and around the world. Lord, until we see the day when all is redeemed, increase in us the zeal to struggle for truth and love.
While the crisis in Gaza and Palestine continues to make news headlines, others around the world are also suffering from conflict. The civil war in Sudan has caused the displacement of at least 6 million people, with reported ethnic killings. The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has resulted in displacement and thousands of deaths. People in many other areas in the world such as Somalia, Myanmar, Ukraine, Nepal, continue to suffer.
God of the oppressed, help us to understand that the cry for freedom is for all those under oppression and when injustice occurs it is a threat for all peoples around the world. As we struggle to achieve liberation, justice, and peace within our context, let us remember that it is linked to others around the world. God, provide liberation for all peoples and help us foster solidarity for one another.
Since the 7th of October, medical workers, journalists, taxi and ambulance drivers, and many others, have performed true acts of heroism. They have healed the sick and injured, given a voice to the voiceless, and helped rescue those trapped in the rubble, risking their own lives. At least 44 Palestinian journalists and over 192 Palestinian doctors have died since the 7th of October, with many others injured.
God of life, we express gratitude for the courage and steadfastness exhibited by the medical professionals, journalists, taxi drivers, and rescue workers in Gaza. Their unwavering commitment to saving and empowering human life is a powerful reflection of the goodness and compassion within our community. Lord may their acts of love and benevolence inspire and uplift all who strive for freedom, justice, and security. Send your Holy Spirit to all who are injured, sick, and trapped under the rubble.
Over the last week, Israeli forces have raided many areas in the West Bank. At least 185 Palestinians have been killed since the 7th of October and the Israeli army had been levelling the streets with armored bulldozers for several days. At least 15 herding communities: 98 households comprising 828 people, including 313 children, have been displaced due to settler violence or increased movement restrictions since the 7th of October.
Holy God, abuse, displacement, and death are things you experienced on your flesh 2000 years ago. Lord, we plead for healing to the injured and comfort for those who have lost loved ones. We know that justice for the oppressed is the only thing that will bring true peace.