My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? —Psalm 22:1
As Lutherans, we are accustomed to holding tension between two truths. Thus the ELCA denounces the egregious acts of Hamas, acts that have led to unspeakable loss of life and hope. At the same time, the ELCA denounces the indiscriminate retaliation of Israel against the Palestinian people, both Christian and Muslim.
For the past week, we have borne witness to the horrors of the escalating crisis between Israel and Hamas. We also watch a growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza as Israel blocks food, water, fuel, and medical supplies and as airstrikes continue to cause unbearable civilian casualties ahead of a just-announced ground assault. We see Israelis and families around the world in the agonizing wait for word about the fate of loved ones killed or taken hostage by Hamas. We are in anguish, grieving, and praying for all people who are living in trauma, fear, and uncertainty.
Among us are Palestinian Lutherans who are fearful for their families, their communities, and their homeland. In our communities, we have Jewish and Muslim neighbors who are also facing the horrors of this crisis and its impact on their loved ones.
It is difficult to find words that suffice in the complexity of this moment, and in the web of relationships that bind us together, as church, with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and our interreligious partners. Yet God has called us to be a people who stand with others amid suffering.
We must also call a thing a thing. The power exerted against all Palestinian people—through the occupation, the expansion of settlements, and the escalating violence—must be called out as a root cause of what we are witnessing. We are committed to our long-standing accompaniment of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
The God who liberates us calls us to be a liberating witness. May it be so.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Editor’s Note: As we continue to pray for peace, it is imperative—even as we feel helpless so far away—that we listen to the voices of the people of the land who are being most directly affected. Here are some of those voices. Additional links are on the ELCA’s resource page under the heading: Global and Ecumenical Resources.
Statement from Bishop Azar of the ELCJHL (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land) on 10/07/2023
Statement on Escalating Crisis in Gaza (The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem) on 10/13/2023
10/07/2023: Statement from Bishop Azar of the ELCJHL (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land)
10/13/2023: Statement on Escalating Crisis in Gaza (The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem)
10/16/2023: “A catastrophe is imminent” (Dr. Fadi Atrash, the head of the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem)
ELCA Resource Page: Israel-Hamas War
ELCA Social Statement: For Peace in God’s World
ELCA Social Message: Human Rights