Mr. Webster says: Freedom: a) the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice of action, b) liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another; independence, c) the quality or state of being exempt or released from something onerous.
As we continue and conclude our march of freedom through Black History Month, I offer that the pursuit of freedom is complex, contentious, contextual, and invariably involves conflict.
In 2008 the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) called for the creation of a Committee to Prepare a Comprehensive Study Focused on Israel and Palestine. The six year later result: a 74 page study guide, Zion Unsettled, was released last month under the auspices of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the PC(USA). Its mission: in solidarity with churches and our other partners in Israel and Palestine, covenants to engage, consolidate, nourish and channel the energy in the Presbyterian Church (USA) toward the goal of a just peace in Israel and Palestine by facilitating education, promoting partnerships and coordinating advocacy.
The goal of the study is that it would be used in churches, synagogues, and mosques to better understand the historic and current crises in the Middle East, and that it would lead to expanded conversations in the pursuit of peace.
I share with you that the guide has been received with as much, if not more, animosity than acclaim. I have been approached by colleagues and friends from several directions with deep concern. One example is a journal article brought to my attention under the title: “Presbyterians Declare War on the Jews”. With great pain I have been reading commentaries and posts questioning, if not asserting, the anti-Semitic nature of the PC(USA).
There is not the space here to even begin to address this issue; much less do I possess the knowledge to helpfully respond (I’ve yet to read the study). I share this information this week in this space for two reasons…
First, that you would be aware that in some arenas our denomination is perceived to be an obstacle, if not enemy, of the peace process.
And, second, to offer this prayer: God of ultimate justice and freedom, grant us, and all of your children, the courage to gather, discuss, and discern in the same spirit of that which we so desperately desire…