Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

The tempo and rhythm of the conference is relatively set in our Bible study and Indabas. In our small "indaba within the Indaba" group today, we made a commitment not to be overwhelmed by the sea of social justice issues but to start small and from a specific point. The issue of the American biofuels programme and the U.S. government's foreign policies occupied our group - as did malaria, HIV and Aids, TB and the war and displacement of people in Sudan. We resolved to learn best practices and to support one another as we bring Christ into these situations.

I attended the second self-select session of the conference today. The theme was social justice and the session discussed the Christian response to the challenges in the Holy Land. We had various scholars, practioners and archbishops from Israel/Palestine address us. Practical suggestions were: 1. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. 2. Educate the youth in the Holy Land and the Holy Basin (that part of Jerusalem including its holiest sites) to live with respect for one another.

There is a great longing for peace in the midst of anguish and hopelessness in the Holy Land. We should never forget those who are suffering there - we need to visit them, to keep contact with them and to highlight their plight. On a different level, one speaker said the problem there has been imported from the US and the fear of what happened in Eastern Europe, and suggested the solution may be for the US to take away what it has imported into the Holy Land.

All I can say, as the Patriarch of Jerusalem said when handing the Archbishop of Canterbury the Order of the Holy Sepulchre: Thank you for your concern for us and the deep knowledge of our spirituality evident in your words, writings and ways; Let our ways, words and writing bring life and light to all the children of God, bruised at this time in the Holy Land.

I also managed some fun and wandered about in the "marketplace" (see the photo!), looking at various bookstalls and vestments. Bishop Geoff Quinlan kindly loaned me his rochet and chimere for the opening service and, guess what, I found a stall which sells them and have ordered one.

The weather is still great, in fact hot. Last night we joined Archbishop Rowan and Jane Williams and other guests for dinner, where the ambience was lovely and the food delicious. So today Lungi and I took a longer walk than normal to keep fit. She continues to enjoy the conference, the first-ever church conference she has attended. Tomorrow is our walk of witness, a visit to Lambeth Palace and Buckingham Palace in London.

God bless you,

++Thabo

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