Proper 9 (July 4, 2010)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Is. 66:10-14; Ps. 66:1-9; Gal. 6:7-16; Lk. 10:1-11,16-20
We are back in Amman after spending the month of June in Jerusalem. During the last months we enjoyed the opportunity to connect with many of MCC’s courageous partners in Palestine/Israel. They faithfully serve their communities under the most difficult of circumstances.
Life under military occupations is a daily struggle for Palestinians. Access to water is limited. The ability to export crops is restricted. Travel is uncertain. Permits and paperwork require persistence and hours of time. The rules at checkpoints change day by day. Every border crossing is an adventure.
We visited a partner in the Jordan Valley who recently used MCC funds to replace 40-year-old irrigation pipes. This will increase the flow of water to their crops and the amount of food available for consumption and sale. Still, villagers described the difficulty of exporting their crops because the occupation.
We attended a young adult conference in Nablus, sponsored by the Palestinian Centre for Peace and Democracy. The youth discussed the challenges of life in Palestine and developed a list of recommendations to pass along to leaders in the Palestinian Authority.
We visited the small village of Jifna in the West Bank to take pictures and bring greetings to Suzi Khoury – a local MCC worker who lives in Amman. As a Palestinian living in Jordan, Suzi has never been allowed to travel to her village.
For the entire month of June, we tried to get permits to visit MCC partners in Gaza. We told Israeli authorities that we needed to visit before June 30, when we would return to Amman. Several hours after arriving back in Amman, we received a message that our permits were approved.
Humor is a survival skill in Palestine. People find ways to laugh about the absurdity of the occupation. One restaurant in Bethlehem used the 30-foot high (9 meters) separation wall as a giant screen to show World Cup soccer games!
The Common Lectionary readings this week challenge us to steadfastly do what is right and good – especially when we meet resistance and circumstances seem bleak.
Isaiah prophesies about the upcoming exile for the people of Jerusalem. But he also promises that those who are humble and contrite will once again return to and find comfort in Jerusalem (Is. 66:2,10-14).
The psalmist admits that humans go through times of severe testing (Ps. 66:10-12), but reminds us that God turns the seas into dry land to make a path for us (v.6), that God keeps watch on the nations (v.7), and that God has kept us among the living and has not let our feet slip (v.8).
In the Epistle reading, Paul writes: “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. . . . So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:7, 9)
In the Gospel reading, Jesus sends out 70 followers in pairs of two to cure the sick and announce that God’s kingdom has come near. Jesus warns that some will not welcome and even reject them. Still, they should not be discouraged but move onto other villages that are ready to receive them. (Lk. 10:1-11)
We are grateful for the many MCC partners in this region who nonviolently resist injustice and continue to do what is right and good. We pray that we will do the same.