7th Sunday after Pentecost (July 15, 2012)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Eph. 1:3-14; Amos 7:7-15; Ps. 85:8-13; Mark 6:14-29
We welcomed a number of visitors in the Amman office this week. Um Yousef, the leader of the Women’s Benevolent Society in Wadi Rayan, dropped by to share two jars of honey from the beekeeping project supported by MCC. We also enjoyed a delightful visit with Shireen Yacoub, a Jordanian attorney and women’s rights advocate, who recently attended the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at EMU. A young Jordanian family hosted us for a delicious Middle Eastern meal and rich conversation on Sunday evening.
Daryl gave a live radio interview on CBC Manitoba, highlighting MCC’s response to Syrian refugees in Jordan. The number of refugees has swelled to 140,000 – with at least 50,000 of this number considered vulnerable and in need of assistance. So far Syrian families have been hosted by Jordanian families or have rented apartments. But those spaces are running out and the Jordanian government announced this week that it will soon open several tent-city refugee camps.
The Common Lectionary readings this weak are about speaking the truth.
In the Epistle reading, Paul describes the gospel as the “word of truth” (Eph. 1:13) – the good news about God’s blessing (v.3), adoption (v.5), grace (v.6), redemption (v.7a), forgiveness (v.7b) and our inheritance (v.11).
In the Old Testament reading, God calls Amos to speak unpopular words of truth to King Jeroboam and the people of Israel, using the image of a plumb line to measure their wayward acts (Amos 7:7-9). Amos prophesies that the king will die by the sword and the people will go into exile (v.11). Amaziah, the priest, complains that “the land is not able to bear all (of Amos’) words.” (v.10)
In the Gospel reading, John the Baptist is imprisoned and later beheaded for daring to speak the truth to Herod about Herod’s adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife. (Mark 6:14-29).
The psalmist describes God’s words of truth to be about peace, steadfast love, faithfulness and righteousness (Ps. 85:8-13).
We heard contemporary examples of truth-telling this week:
Nawaf Fares, Syria’s ambassador to Iraq, defected, saying, “I call on all party members to do the same because the regime has transformed it into a tool to oppress the people and their aspirations to freedom and dignity.” This action comes on the heels of another prominent defection, Gen. Manaf Tlas, a leader of Assad’s elite Republican Guard.
Israeli author, Nurit Peled-Elhanan, recently published a book, Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education. Peled-Elhanan argues that textbooks used Israel’s school system are “laced with a pro-Israel ideology, and that they play a part in priming Israeli children for military service.” Peled-Elhanan is of the founders of the Bereaved Families for Peace. After the death of her 13 year-old daughter in a 1997 suicide bombing, she became an outspoken critic of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Speaking the truth is rarely popular. Indeed, it often brings costly consequences. But truth is the path to liberation and wholeness. May God help us to speak truth in love.