St Thomas Blog

Notes from Revd Eliza's sermon - Easter 3

Notes from Revd Eliza's sermon - Easter 3

Friday 19th April 2024

When Rev Sarah asked me to preach today - I responded with a question: May I talk about Gaza? I go to sleep and wake up everyday thinking about Gaza. I wonder how many more people have died.

Al Jazeera reported 7 days ago that according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza : At least 33,137 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army in Gaza since the start of the war on October 7.

Thousands more are missing under the rubble of collapsed buildings and infrastructure, and are presumed dead.

This is not a war. A war presumes two equal sides attacking each other. This is a mass slaughter. When Ukraine was attack we in the western world were outraged. We flew flags of yellow and blue - we welcomed Ukrainian refugees. Why does our media tend to spin and bury this genocide? And why do our global Anglican bishops not express solidarity with the suffering?

Israeli new historian Ilan Pappe originally from Tel Aviv but now based at Exeter University speaks of the weaponisation of anti-semitism. He speaks of being raised not to question the fictions he had been taught. And the way his eyes were opened by the historical evidence of the ethnic cleaning of the Palestinian people. He says he needed to be deprogrammed.

These past 6 months have changed the way I see the world. And the way I engage with the news. Gaza has become the moral compass of our time. Rev Dr Munther Isaac of Bethlehem Bible College asked the question in his Christmas sermon - where is god in war? God is under the rubble. He said christ is being crucified again in Gaza. Christ is under the rubble.

I have heard a statistic that more children have died in the ongoing massacre in Gaza in the past 6 months than in all armed conflict globally over the past 4 years.

3 poems:

Think Of Others

As you prepare your breakfast, think of others
(do not forget the pigeon's food).
As you conduct your wars, think of others
(do not forget those who seek peace).
As you pay your water bill, think of others
(those who are nursed by clouds).
As you return home, to your home, think of others
(do not forget the people of the camps).
As you sleep and count the stars, think of others
(those who have nowhere to sleep).
As you liberate yourself in metaphor, think of others
(those who have lost the right to speak).
As you think of others far away, think of yourself
(say: "If only I were a candle in the dark").
Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) was an award-winning Palestinian author and poet.

Em Berry recently published a poem, "Because of Us," that reads,

This morning I learned
The English word gauze
(finely woven medical cloth)
Comes from the Arabic word [...] Ghazza
Because Gazans have been skilled weavers for centuries

I wondered then
how many of our wounds
have been dressed
because of them
and how many of theirs
have been left open
because of us

Last October there were 36 hospitals in Gaza. Today there are none. Medical personnel have been targeted. Journalists too....

Refaat Alareer (1979-2023) was a professor of world literature and creative writing at the Islamic University of Gaza and the editor of Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine (2013). He was killed by an IDF airstrike on December 6, 2023, along with his brother, nephew, his sister, and three of her children.

If I Must Die by Refaat Aleera
If I must die,
you must live
to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child, somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven in the eye
awaiting his dad who left in a blaze —
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh
not even to himself —
sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above,
and thinks for a moment an angel is there
bringing back love.
If I must die
let it bring hope,
let it be a story.

The 13th c Persian mystic Rumi wrote: The wound is the place where the light enters.

Let's bring the light. Let's bring the peace which passes all understanding. Peace be with you. Amen.