This Month’s Vigil

August 7, 2018 – 24 August Prayer Vigil (1)

 

 

April 2018: Access to Health Care

April 2, 2018 –

ACT PALESTINE FORUM (APF)
PRAYER VIGIL FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

APRIL 2018

Every day in the month of April 2018, and particularly on the 24th, we continue to pray with and for our sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel who have called for an ecumenical prayer vigil across the globe.

A special thanks to DSPR and LWF for contributing to this month’s prayers.


Prayer Focus: Access to Health Care

This month the APF focus is on the access to humanitarian health services throughout Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Restrictions on movement and limited resources resulting from the occupation of the Palestinian territories mean that many cannot get the care that they need.

A new, wheelchair-accessible shuttle bus was purchased by the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), a program of APF member The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). AVH is the only hospital where Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza can receive radiation therapy for cancer and this bus will transfer Gaza cancer patients between AVH and the Jerusalem hotels where they stay during their treatment.

 


BACKGROUND:

Palestinians continue to need humanitarian health services across the oPt, particularly in Gaza, where needs have substantially increased in the past year, but also in vulnerable locations and communities in the West Bank. In Gaza, due to the deterioration of the electricity supply over the course of 2017, elective surgeries are being delayed to reserve energy for emergency cases, diagnostic services are put on hold, and Ministry of Health (MoH) primary healthcare (PHC) facilities are at risk of closure. Compounding the electricity crisis is the shortage in medical supplies and continuing access restrictions on the referral of patients in need of life-saving healthcare outside Gaza. Gaza’s already overburdened and under-resourced health sector is now on the brink of collapse as essential medicines run out and there is a continuous loss of healthcare staff.

 

Access to treatment for patients referred outside of Gaza and the West Bank is becoming increasingly restricted. The number of patients seeking permits to access healthcare outside the Gaza Strip has more than doubled since 2012, but approval rates through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing are dramatically declining, from 92.5% in 2012 to 62.1% in 2016[1], to 55% in August 2017[2]. The impact of these restrictions can be life-threatening. In the first half of 2017, 12 deaths were reported as a direct result of permit denials. Every year, 20,000 patients from Gaza are affected by the restrictive permit process[3].  West Bank patients also face restrictions in accessing healthcare and must apply for permits to travel, whether to East Jerusalem, within the oPt, or to Israel[4].

SCRIPTURE READINGS:

Luke 5:17-26

John 5:1-15

SCRIPTURE REFLECTION:

In the texts chosen for the vigil this month, we read of the challenge of access that was present for the sick even in the days of Jesus. The man at the pool of Bethesda was repeatedly ignored and pushed aside by others and did not have someone to assist him. John 5:6-7 reads, “When Jesus saw him lying there, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well? The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another man steps down before me.’”

The paralyzed man mentioned in Luke 5:17-26 also needed the help of his friends, who went so far as to lower him through the roof, to access the healing that Jesus provided. When Jesus saw the faith of the paralyzed man and his friends, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

Today, financial burdens, movement restrictions, and limited resources all impede access to health care for those who need it most in Gaza and the West Bank. The readings selected for the vigil this month prompt us to reflect on our responsibilities toward those who do not have access to the care that they need.  We are called to help, to serve and to advocate for those who are vulnerable, especially the sick. Access to health care is a right and the work of helping all to gain access is not a charity, but a duty.

PRAYERS:

(Adapted from prayers of the Saint Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church)

Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, You became man and died on the cross for our salvation. You healed people of sickness and affliction through Your love and compassion.

Almighty God, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, come to my help and deliver me from this difficulty that besets me. I believe Lord, that all trials of life are under Your care and that all things work for the good of those who love You. Take away from me fear, anxiety and distress. Help me to face and endure my difficulty with faith, courage and wisdom. Grant that this trial may bring me closer to You for You are my rock and refuge, my comfort and hope, my delight and joy. I trust in Your love and compassion.

O God, our help in time of need, you are just and merciful, and you incline to the supplications of your people. Look down upon me and have mercy on me and deliver me from the trouble that now besets me. Deal with us not according to our iniquities, but according to Your manifold mercies, for we are the works of Your hands, and You know our weaknesses. I pray to you to grant me Your divine helping grace and endow me with patience and strength to endure my hardships with complete submission to Your Will. Only You know our misery and sufferings, and to You, our only hope and refuge, I flee for relief and comfort, trusting in Your infinite love and compassion, that in due time, when You know best, You will deliver me from this trouble, and turn my distress into comfort. We then shall rejoice in Your mercy, and exalt and praise Your Holy Name, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages.

Amen.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE(S):

7 April 2018 marks the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Day. This year, the WHO is calling world leaders to live up to the pledges they made and commit to concrete steps to advance the health of all. Everyone, everywhere should be able to access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship.

Read more here: http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2018/campaign-essentials/en/

And here: http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2018/whd-2018_policy-advocacy-toolkit.pdf?ua=1

Read more about the health and humanitarian crisis in Gaza here: http://www.who.int/hac/crises/international/wbgs/appeal/who-donor-alert-gaza20-2-2018.pdf

A printable PDF version of the prayers can be found here: 2018 April Prayer Vigil


[1] WHO monthly reports on referral of patients from the Gaza Strip http://www.emro.who.int/pse/publications-who/monthly-referral-reports.html

[2] WHO, Right to Health: Crossing barriers to access health in the occupied Palestinian territory, 2016

[3] WHO infographic: Timeline for Gaza Patient Referral 2016 http://www.emro.who.int/images/stories/palestine/documents/WHO_infographic_final-TIMELINE_FOR_GAZA_PATIENT_REFERRALS-13July017.pdf?ua=1

[4] WHO, Right to Health: Crossing barriers to access health in the occupied Palestinian territory, 2016. WHO, WHO, Right to Health: Crossing barriers to access health in the occupied Palestinian territory, 2014-15

March 2018: Water in the Gaza Strip

March 13, 2018 –

ACT PALESTINE FORUM
PRAYER VIGIL FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

MARCH 2018

Every day in the month ahead, and particularly on the 24th, we continue to pray with and for our sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel who have called for an ecumenical prayer vigil across the globe.

A special thanks to The Lutheran World Federation for authoring this month’s prayers.


Prayer Focus:

Water in the Gaza Strip

Since 2007, the Israeli government has imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, severely restricting the movement of Palestinians and their access to resources, infrastructure, and public services. One area where this is increasingly dire is the availability of potable water in Gaza. According to a report published in July 2017 by the United Nations Country Team in the occupied Palestinian territory, only 3.80% of water available from the public water network is safe for drinking. It is predicted that by the year 2020, the coastal aquifer that supplies the water to Gaza’s public network with be irreversibly damaged and will not provide any safe drinking water. The people of Gaza must rely on water trucking for their drinking water, which is 15-20 times more expensive than water from the network. Echoing the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Water Network, APF acknowledges that water is both a gift of God and a fundamental human right and we pray and advocate for an end to the Israeli occupation and for the people of the Gaza Strip whose need for justice and clean water overlap.

SCRIPTURE:

Amos 5:23-24

Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps.  But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

SCRIPTURE REFLECTION:

In this period of Lenten reflection, we pray for and work for justice and righteousness and we are drawn to the call of the prophet Amos. Amos uses the image of an ever-flowing stream — not a wadi that rushes with water for a short time and dries up. Amos uses this image in order to emphasize the nature of justice — continuous, enduring, and abundant, and the character of those who seek justice — steady, persistent, and indefatigable.  Amos expresses an impatience with songs and melodies at a time when there is “darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it.”  His plea is to let justice roll down like waters!

PRAYERS:

Adapted from WCC Prayers related to SDG6 Water and Sanitation, 23 September 2015

Prayer of Confession

Leader: God, the very source of life, whose spirit hovered over waters at the time of creation; God in Jesus Christ, who came as living waters to quench the thirsty; God the Holy Spirit, who waters and brings forth the fruit; we come to your presence confessing our attitudes of greed, dominance and insensitivity towards your wonderful creation, and particularly towards water.

All: Let justice roll down like rivers, and let rivers roll out in justice.


Leader: We confess that we have been irresponsible in our use of water, wasting it to satisfy our comfortable lives. In many places we have commodified and privatized water, a natural resource, denying people access to it. In the name of development projects, water sources have been drained or polluted with industrial waste, causing risk to flora and fauna.

All: Let justice roll down like rivers, and let rivers roll out in justice.


Leader: We acknowledge the lack of cooperation between different authorities and organizations to manage water resources fairly. We confess our failure, as faith communities, to address water justice and seek forgiveness for not speaking out for the thirsty and the dying in situations of drought.

All: Let justice roll down like rivers, and let rivers roll out in justice.


Leader: We confess to being silent spectators as many vulnerable communities walk miles every day in search of water for their families. We regret our involvement in the commodification of water, which has resulted in contamination and reduction of water supplies. We come to your presence ashamed of our apathy and insincerity towards the abuse of water and other natural resources, asking you to inspire us to be challenged to conserve, preserve and use water prudently.

All: Let justice roll down like rivers, and let rivers roll out in justice.


Absolution

All: God who brought water out of the rock, 
God who quenched the thirst of those dying in the wilderness, 
God who in Jesus gave the living waters 
so that those who taste them would never thirst, 
God who in Jesus died on the Cross thirsty, 
for there was none to quench his thirst, 
listen to all those who truly confess 
and grant us forgiveness so that we act responsibly in our use of water, 
become sensitive to the desperate needs of those without water, 
and gain wisdom in conserving and preserving water so that rivers roll out in justice among all nations and all peoples. 
Amen.

ADDITIONAL WORSHIP RESOURCE(S):

Full WCC prayer service here: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/spiritual-life/prayer-for-everyone/prayers-related-to-sdg6-water-and-sanitation

Hymn: Let Streams of Living Justice

https://soundcloud.com/mark-mummert/let-streams-of-living-justice

Verse 1:

Let streams of living justice flow down upon the earth;

Give freedom’s light to captives, let all the poor have worth.

The hungry’s hands are pleading, the workers claim their rights,

The mourners long for laughter, the blinded seek for sight.

Make liberty a beacon, strike the iron pow’r;

Abolish ancient vengeance: proclaim your people’s hour.

Verse 2:

Your city’s build to music; we are the stones you seek;

Your harmony is language; we are the worlds you speak.

Our faith we find in service, our hope in others’ dreams,

Our love in hand of neighbor; our homeland brightly gleams.

Inscribe our hearts with justice; your way the path untried;

Your truth – the heart of stranger; your life – the Crucified.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE(S):

Read more from the UN report on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza: https://unsco.unmissions.org/gaza-ten-years-later-report-july-2017

Join the Ecumenical Water Network for the Seven Weeks for Water, reflections for the Lenten season on water: https://water.oikoumene.org/en/whatwedo/seven-weeks-for-water/2018-1

Participate in the UN World Water Day on 22 March: http://worldwaterday.org/

Find a printable PDF version of the March 2018 Prayer Vigil here: March 2018 Prayer Vigil

 

January 2018 Prayers: Home Demolitions

January 25, 2018 –

“Perhaps the Most Beautiful Memories are Those of a Place”

Photo by Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture student Mahmoud al-Kurd, winner of the Karimeh Abboud Photography Award.

 A special thanks to the ELCJHL for contributing to this month’s prayers.

Prayer Focus: Home Demolitions

Background:

Demolishing homes as a form of collective punishment is one of the most extreme measures that Israel has employed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the occupation began in 1967 (and until 2005, in the Gaza Strip). Over the years, Israel has demolished hundreds of houses as part of this policy, leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless.

The policy of punitive house demolition is, by definition, meant to harm people who have done nothing wrong and are suspected of no wrongdoing, but are related to Palestinians who attacked or attempted to attack Israeli civilians or security forces. In almost all cases, the individual who carried out the attack or planned to do so no longer lives in the house, as they were killed by Israeli security forces during the attack or were arrested and face a long prison sentence in Israel.

This policy constitutes collective punishment, which is prohibited and violates binding provisions of international law. B’Tselem

The Geneva Convention Statement

“No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”

Father Naim S. Ateek  A Palestinian Theology of Liberation: The Bible, Justice, and the Palestine-Israel Conflict

“The government of Israel has not learned the lesson that Ezekiel was trying to teach his people. It practices collective punishment against Palestinians. It punishes the whole family and the whole town for the “crime” of one or two people. It demolishes their family homes and causes the homelessness of many people for a crime they did not commit.” (pg.67)

Readings:

Ezekiel 19:20, NASV

The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.

Luke 19:1-10, NASV

When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Responsive Prayer: Psalm 46:8-11

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Prayer:

God of refuge and strength, 

We pray for those who are terrified, living in fear, fleeing danger and seeking safety. May those who are left with nothing know that they are not forgotten.

We ask for the provision of resources so that people’s needs are met. We ask for food, homes and property.

We pray that the innocent be protected. We ask for the protection of family members of offenders; that they be treated with fairness.

We pray for your strength for those who are caring and providing aid; may they know your help as they help others.

Would you give grace to your church, as they seek to live the life that Jesus called them to and to love their neighbor, not harm their neighbor.

Would you give wisdom to governments and leaders of the international community as they respond to this crisis. Give them clarity of mind and generosity of heart.

We look with hope to the day when wars will cease, collective punishment will cease, and that there will be eternal peace.

Amen

*Adapted from Christ Church London “Prayer for Displaced Peoples”

Opportunities for Advocacy:

Listed here are a few sources that invite you to advocate for an end to Palestinian home demolitions as collective punishment:

Christian Peacemaker Teams

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

Passia Occupation Fact Sheet

 

A printable PDF version of the prayers can be found here: Prayer Vigil January 2018

ACT Palestine Forum: December Prayers

November 26, 2017 –

Prayer Petitions: December 2017

Health Care Access and Christmas Message of Peace

Everyday in the month ahead, and particularly on the 24th of the month, we continue to pray with and for our sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel who have called for an ecumenical prayer vigil across the globe.

Thank you to the Lutheran World Federation Program for contributing to this month’s prayers.

A printable version of the December prayers is available here: December 2017 Prayer Vigil


This month, we focus on the challenges facing Palestinians seeking life-saving medical treatment under the difficulties of occupation, and remember the hope and courage the the birth of Jesus brings to a world suffering from injustice and striving toward peace.

 

In the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), severe restrictions placed on Palestinians and their families often have serious negative consequences for people seeking healthcare. According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, “the hundreds of physical obstructions and dozens of checkpoints result in very limited access to medical treatment…and is especially grave among residents of villages and outlying areas who need to get to hospitals in the large cities.” Patients from the West Bank and Gaza who need to access medical treatment only found in Jerusalem must obtain Israeli-issued permits for travel into Jerusalem. These permits require documentation proving their illness, confirmation of appointment, and proof that this hospital/clinic is the only place for the patient to receive their treatments.

These struggles are familiar for APF member The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), which owns and operates Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH, pictured above) in East Jerusalem. AVH started in partnership with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in 1950 as a major medical facility in Jerusalem to care for Palestinian refugees. Today, most of the patients served by the hospital continue to be in social need and are seeking life-saving specialized care for cancer and kidney failure.

Augusta Victoria Hospital is the only hospital in the West Bank and Gaza providing radiation therapy for cancer patients in the Palestinian territories. AVH is the leading hospital providing treatment for breast cancer among women in the West Bank and Gaza and is also the only medical facility in the West Bank offering pediatric kidney dialysis. On a daily basis, these and other specialty services touch hundreds of lives, both young and old, from communities across the Palestinian territories.

 

Scripture: Excerpts from Isaiah 9

But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish…The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them a light has shined.

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.

Scripture Reflection: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Prince of Peace” – where God comes in love to human beings and unites with them, there peace is made between God and humankind and among people…Go to the child in the manger and receive there the peace of God. Come see how God, out of pure love, has become our brother and wants to reconcile us with each other. In the world, power reigns. This child is the Prince of Peace. Where Jesus is, peace reigns.

– excerpt from “Christus Victor” address, November 26, 1939

Prayers: Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship

Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming nurture our growth as people of repentance and peace. O God, it is your will to hold both heaven and earth in a single peace. Let the design of your great love shine on the waste of our wraths and sorrows, and give peace to your church, peace among nations, peace in our homes, and peace in our hearts.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Almighty and merciful god, we call to mind before you all whom it is easy to forget; those who are homeless, destitute, sick, isolated, and all who have no one to care for them. May we bring help and healing to those who are broken in body or spirit, that they may have comfort in sorrow, company in loneliness, and a place of safety and warmth.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Loving God, your heart overflows with compassion for your whole creation. Pour out your Spirit on all people living with illness, as well as their families and loved ones. Help them to know that you claim them as your own and deliver them from fear and pain.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God, our refuge and strength, your healing power is everywhere about us. Strengthen those who work among the sick, especially the caregivers at Augusta Victoria Hospital and the other institutions of the East Jerusalem Hospital Network. Strengthen them in body and spirit. Refresh them when weary; console them when anxious; comfort them in grief; and hearten them in discouragement. Be with us all, and give us peace at all times and in every way.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

All-powerful and unseen God, the coming of your light into our world has brightened weary hearts with peace. Call us out of darkness, and empower us to proclaim the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Amen.

 

Additional Worship Resource:

Hymn: Come Now, O Prince of Peace

(1) Come now, O Prince of peace; make us one body.

Come, O Lord Jesus; reconcile your people.

(2) Come now, O God of love, make us one body.

Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people.

(3) Come now and set us free, O God our Savior.

Come, O Lord Jesus; reconcile all nations.

(4) Come, Hope of unity; make us one body.

Come, O Lord Jesus; reconcile all nations.


ACT Palestine Forum: 24 October Prayers

October 26, 2017 –

Prayer Petitions: 24 October 2017
ACT PALESTINE FORUM
PRAYER VIGIL FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
24TH of every month

Every day in the month ahead, we continue to pray with and for our sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel who have called for an ecumenical prayer vigil across the globe on the 24th of every month.

APF encourages its friends and partners to visit the APF website and APF Facebook page often to find, and also contribute, updates, photos, stories, advocacy ideas, and special prayers.

A special thanks to Christian Aid for contributing to this month’s prayers.


ACT Palestine Forum Prayers

24 October 2017

Prayer Focus: Palestine Independence Day

After decades of conflict, the lives of many people in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory are characterised by fear, oppression, and poverty.

Twenty-nine years ago, the Palestinian National Council proclaimed the Palestinian Declaration of Independence within the 1967 borders. The Declaration insisted on the settlement of international and regional disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the charters and resolutions of the United Nations.

In Resolution 43/177, the United Nations General Assembly acknowledged the proclamation of the state of Palestine by the Palestine Liberation Organisation. However, continued occupation, lack of a political process, protracted cycles of violence, and movement restrictions have all led to questioning the viability of a sovereign Palestinian State.

A solution to this conflict is vital not just for the security and well-being of Israelis and Palestinians alike, but also for stability in the Middle East and ultimately for relationships across the world.

Therefore, Christians, Muslims, Jews and people of all faiths are called to pray for an end to conflict, for healing and reconciliation, and for a just and lasting peace that brings safety, development, and prosperity to all Palestinians and Israelis.

Now is the time for people of all faiths to come together and pray for peace, justice, and security for all. 

Prayers

Eternal God, Creator of the universe, there is no God but You.
Great and wonderful are Your works, wondrous are your ways.
Thank You for the many splendored variety of Your creation.
Thank You for the many ways we affirm Your presence and purpose,
and the freedom to do so.
Forgive our violation of Your creation.
Forgive our violence toward each other.
We stand in awe and gratitude for Your persistent love
for each and all of Your children:
Christian, Jew, Muslim,
as well as those with other faiths.
Grant to all and our leaders attributes of the strong;
mutual respect in words and deed,
restraint in the exercise of power, and
the will for peace with justice, for all.
Eternal God, Creator of the universe, there is no God but You.

God of mercy, even as we long to understand that which is often beyond our comprehension, we lay before you the hearts, minds and bodies of all those suffering from conflict in Palestine and Israel and from the ongoing occupation. Shower upon all the people of the Holy Land the spirit of justice and reconciliation.

God of the nations, give to all our people the blessings of well-being, freedom, and harmony, and, above all things, strengthen us to care for all those in need.

Amen.

A printable PDF version of the prayers can be found here: 24 October 2017 Prayer Vigil

ACT Palestine Forum: 24 September Prayers

October 2, 2017 –

Prayer Petitions: 24 September 2017
ACT PALESTINE FORUM
PRAYER VIGIL FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
24TH of every month

Every day in the month ahead, we continue to pray with and for our sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel who have called for an ecumenical prayer vigil across the globe on the 24th of every month.

APF encourages its friends and partners to visit the APF website and APF Facebook page often to find, and also contribute, updates, photos, stories, advocacy ideas, and special prayers.

A special thanks to DSPR for contributing to this month’s prayers.


 

ACT Palestine Forum Prayers

24 September 2017

 Prayer Focus: Health Care Access

The army’s severe restrictions on Palestinian movement in the West Bank gravely affect the ability of Palestinians to obtain proper medical treatment. The hundreds of physical obstructions and dozens of checkpoints result in very limited access to medical treatment, and sometimes none at all. The problem is especially grave among residents of villages and outlying areas who need to get to hospitals in the large cities. For example, persons living in villages around Jerusalem who need to get to hospitals in East Jerusalem for treatment require a permit to enable them to reach their destination. To obtain a permit, patients have to provide medical documents testifying to their illness, as well as confirmation that they have an appointment at the specific hospital and that it is the only facility where the needed treatment is available. These policies also affect patients from Gaza who are seeking medical care. According to WHO records from this past month, approximately 60% of permit requests for patients from Gaza were denied. Often patients who need to cross the Erez checkpoint to leave Gaza and travel to Jerusalem for treatment are in serious condition and the vital services they are seeking are not available in Gaza.

Dr Gerald Rockenschaub, Head of WHO West Bank and Gaza, stated: “The right to health is a fundamental right of every human being and the ongoing and enduring occupation is having a detrimental effect on the right to health for Palestinians. Occupation impacts on the underlying determinants of health, such as access to safe drinking-water, adequate sanitation and healthy working and living conditions.  It also severely affects the availability, accessibility and quality of health services.”

http://applications.emro.who.int/docs/Coun_pub_doc_2017_EN_19900.pdf?ua=1

Prayers

Prayers for a Sick Person
Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, You became man and died on the cross for our salvation. You healed people of sickness and affliction through Your love and compassion. Visit me, Lord and grant me strength to bear this sickness with which I am afflicted, with patience, submission to Your will and trust in Your loving care. I pray that You will bless the means used for my recovery and those who administer them. Grant that my sickness may be to my spiritual benefit and that I may live the rest of my life more faithfully according to Your will. For You are the source of life and healing and to You I give praise and glory, now and forever. Amen.

A printable version of the prayers can be found here: 24 September 2017 Prayer Vigil

ACT Palestine Forum: 24 July Prayers

July 27, 2017 –

Prayer Petitions: 24 July 2017
ACT PALESTINE FORUM
PRAYER VIGIL FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
24TH of every month

Every day in the month ahead, we continue to pray with and for our sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel who have called for an ecumenical prayer vigil across the globe on the 24th of every month.

APF encourages its friends and partners to visit the APF website and APF Facebook page often to find, and also contribute, updates, photos, stories, advocacy ideas, and special prayers.

A special thanks to the ELCJHL for contributing to this month’s prayers.


ACT Palestine Forum Prayers

24 July 2017

Prayer Focus: Family Reunification

Israel’s residency policy has left Palestinian families divided, spouses living apart, and children in single-family homes. Couples in which one of the spouses is a resident of the Occupied Territories (Israel) and the other a resident of the West Bank or Gaza, must choose between two options: One option is that the resident spouse leaves the Occupied Territories and the couple lives together abroad. Because Israel does not grant the West Bank/Gaza Palestinian spouse a due process toward legal status, the West Bank/Gaza spouse will never have a legal chance to live with their loved one in the Occupied Territories.  The other option, available when the West Bank/Gaza spouse is already in the Occupied Territories, is to have the spouse live there without a legal status, as well. In this situation, the couple and their children must live in hiding, in constant fear of deportation, arrest, and fines.

B’Tselem

***

Scripture:

Matthew 19:6

“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Genesis 21:17

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 God was with the boy as he grew up. 

Exodus 4:18

Moses went back to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, “Please let me go back to my kindred in Egypt and see whether they are still living.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in Peace.”

Prayers:

Holy God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus Christ your son,

Look with compassion upon the whole human family.

Take away the arrogance and hatred that infects our hearts,

Break down the walls that leave families separated.

Unite us in bonds of love, your love, marital love, and the love of family,

So that in unity we can accomplish the work You have begun.

Today we pray for the sanctity of marriage,

We pray for Palestinian children who do not have the loving embrace of both parents.

We pray for the freedom to love despite residency boundaries.

We pray for those who make decisions that tear families apart,

So that they may come to know your love reflected in the family.

Strengthen our families so that they may grow together and become instruments to peace and justice for Palestine. Keep us steadfast in prayer, in advocacy, and in action. 

Amen. 

***

Opportunities for Advocacy

Listed here are a few sources that invite you to advocate for an end to family unification freezes:

Defense for Children International Palestine

Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Find a PDF version of the Prayers here: 24 July 2017 Prayer Vigil

ACT Palestine Forum: 24 June Prayers

June 29, 2017 –

Prayer Petitions: 24 June 2017
ACT PALESTINE FORUM
PRAYER VIGIL FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
24TH of every month

Every day in the month ahead, we continue to pray with and for our sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel who have called for an ecumenical prayer vigil across the globe on the 24th of every month.

APF encourages its friends and partners to visit the APF website and APF Facebook page often to find, and also contribute, updates, photos, stories, advocacy ideas, and special prayers.


ACT Palestine Forum Prayers

24 June 2017

 Prayer Focus: The Annexation of Jerusalem

Jerusalem has been and continues to be one of the most contentious issues related to the 50 year military occupation of Palestine. Following the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Israel unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem to its territory, in contravention of international law. Palestinians who were living in Jerusalem were given the status of “permanent residents” of Israel. This residency typically provides them with greater freedom of movement than Palestinians from other parts of the oPt and allows them to pay into the social services system to receive health and social security coverage. However, this status can be revoked on various grounds, denying the affected residents their right to live in the oPt, including East Jerusalem (UN OCHA oPt). East Jerusalem is physically isolated from the rest of the West Bank by the Separation Barrier, restricting movement, resource access, employment, and economic activity for Palestinians. In this 50th year of occupation, we pray for a solution to this prolonged injustice and for the continued hope and perseverance of all those working for peace.

Read more about the effects of the occupation on occupied East Jerusalem here:

https://www.ochaopt.org/location/east-jerusalem

http://www.btselem.org/jerusalem

http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/wall-and-jerusalem

Prayers

Lament

(Normal Font: Leader, Bold Font: All)

Give us a voice

and we will cry out.

We will raise our voices to sing

Our feet will dance

Wherever there are signs of life around us.

Give us a voice

and we will sob.

Weeping with your world,

like a child holding a broken treasure,

a child that will not be comforted:

 

weeping at the divisions and separations of churches and our communities;

weeping at misused powers that oppress others and destroy the earth;

weeping at the brokenness of our lives;

weeping with those who lost their loved ones because of wars and conflicts;

weeping with refugees and displaced people;

weeping with the abused and unloved children and youth;

weeping with those who are discriminated against;

weeping with the hungry and the thirsty as they search for a just peace.

Give us a voice to name truth

and expose falsehood;

to encourage the downhearted

and confront the powers.

Give us a voice that speaks with passion

and a voice full of compassion.

A voice that is gentle

and a voice that knows when to be angry.

When there is no word to convey our grief and anger,

and when we cannot pray,

help us to believe

that the Spirit groans with us and intercedes for us.

Give us a voice,

and we will proclaim the living Christ.

Voices buried deep will shout out.

Voices that have been submerged will emerge.

Voices that have never been heard will be raised.

Even stones will cry out.

We hear the words of the Spirit of Christ whispering to us.

 

Keep the dream alive.

Watch and wait.

One day I will return.

One day justice will flow like a river.

And I will establish peace for you.

Amen.

Lament from the WCC Global Day of Prayer for Just Peace in the Holy Land, 2017

Full order of service can be found here:

http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/spiritual-life/pentecost-ecumenical-prayer-for-unity-and-just-peace-pentecost-2017

Please find a printable version of the prayers here: 24 June 2017 Prayer Vigil

ACT Palestine Forum: 24 May Prayers

May 24, 2017 –

Prayer Petitions: 24 May 2017
ACT PALESTINE FORUM
PRAYER VIGIL FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
24TH of every month

Every day in the month ahead, we continue to pray with and for our sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel who have called for an ecumenical prayer vigil across the globe on the 24th of every month.

APF encourages its friends and partners to visit the APF website and APF Facebook page often to find, and also contribute, updates, photos, stories, advocacy ideas, and special prayers.

A special thanks to DSPR-NECC for contributing to this month’s prayers.


ACT Palestine Forum Prayers

24 May 2017

 Prayer Focus: Gaza Blockade

Since October 2000, the Gaza Strip has been subjected to a continuous but fluctuating blockade. The blockade was reinforced and enhanced to unprecedented levels in the 2-3 years that followed the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2006/2007. The blockade entailed both the movement of goods and individuals.

In 2016, the volume of goods entering Gaza was at the same level as 2007, falling short of meeting the demands of the increasing population. The volume of goods exported was just 20% the amount exported in 2007. The restrictions on exports increase the vulnerability of Gaza’s economy by weakening its production base. After the war of 2014, restrictions were imposed on the entry of construction materials needed for the reconstruction of the intensive damages encountered by private and public assets in Gaza. Such restrictions slow the recovery process and extend the suffering of thousands of families who lost their houses during the war.

The number of Palestinians leaving Gaza via Israel on daily basis (460 people) is only 2% the figure in September 2000 (OCHA, 2016). The blockade targets the population of the Gaza Strip without exceptions. A significant percentage, more than 35%, of patients applying for permits for medical reasons were denied access. Humanitarian actors, especially the Palestinian staff, are increasingly being denied access out of Gaza through Israel (OCHA 2016).

Israel is still prohibiting Palestinian farmers from reaching their lands that are within 300 meters from the Israel/Gaza borders, making farmers poorer and depriving Gaza from cultivating significant parts of its arable lands, essential for its food security. Similarly, fishermen are only allowed to fish within 6 nautical miles from Gaza’s shore, which is less than one third of the fishing area established in the Oslo Accords.

These numerous restrictions have resulted in making the unemployment rates rise to above 40% and the poverty reached around 40% (PCBS 2016). About 47% of the population in Gaza Strip suffers severe food insecurity. And, more than 70% of the population depends differentially on aid (OCHA 2016).

OCHA. November 2016. The Gaza Strip: The Humanitarian Impacts of the Blockade. United Nations Office for the Coordination of the Humanitarian Affairs. https://www.ochaopt.org/content/gaza-strip-humanitarian-impact-blockade-november-2016.

PCBS. Palestine in Figures 2015. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/Downloads/book2188.pdf

Prayers

Prayer for Peace

Almighty God and Creator, You are the Father of all people on the earth. Guide, I pray, all the nations and their leaders in the ways of justice and peace. Protect us from the evils of injustice, prejudice, exploitation, conflict, and war. Help us to put away mistrust, bitterness, and hatred. Teach us to cease the storing and using of implements of war. Lead us to find peace, respect, and freedom. Unite us in the making and sharing of tools of peace against ignorance, poverty, disease, and oppression. Grant that we may grow in harmony and friendship as brothers and sisters created in Your image, to Your honor and praise.

Amen.

Special Ecumenical Prayer on 5 June 2017

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling on Christians worldwide to join in prayer for just peace in the Holy Land by taking part in a Pentecost prayer service. The WCC has developed a service for the “The Global Day of Prayer for Just Peace in the Holy Land” to be used by churches and communities of faith all over the globe on 5 June 2017.

 

The Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, stated “To pray for unity is our calling as an ecumenical family. To pray for peace in the Hold Land, and particularly in Jerusalem at this time, is an affirmation of our commitment to the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace and our long history of engagement for justice and peace in Palestine and Israel. We support the member churches in the region in their witness and ministry, and we encourage member churches around the world to act in prayer and solidarity for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel.”

 

More information and resources for this service can be found here:

 http://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/wcc-calls-for-prayer-for-just-peace-in-the-holy-land

 

 A printable PDF version of the prayers can be found here.

 

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