Expressing Gratitude: Civility and Human Rights
Scripture: Luke 21:33
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
Our world is in constant change and yet we long for something that remains constant. Jesus’ teachings are examples of words that have not passed away. The message to live with love and compassion for others is just as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.
During a trip to Bethlehem, Palestine, I visited Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center. Wi’am was founded by a Christian man, Zoughbi al Zoughbi. He saw great needs in his community due to the suffering under the Israeli occupation and set about to do something with his knowledge of Jesus’ teachings of love for others. He first started a peer counseling program while a student, and now his center, Wi’am, helps hundreds of men, women, and children with counseling and programs every year. I was moved by his stories of people helped by Wi’am through the years, including a woman named Lucy.
Lucy lost many in her family during the second Intifada in 2000 when she was a teenager, which filled her with anger and hate. She was introduced to the youth center at Wi’am and slowly learned a different way of living and, as she puts it, “a blind eye for a blind eye will leave everyone blind.” Today she is a counselor at Wi’am, is on the Bethlehem City Council, and is an inspiration to many.
God of love and compassion – We are grateful for Jesus’ words. May they stay with us as we move through our day. Let us be where we should be, say and do what is needed, and turn the tables if we must in defense of our fellow humans’ rights. Amen.