The Attack on Netanya
In Penitence
March 28, 2002

Dear Friends,

As word about the latest attack on Israelis came last night, I was sick and
heartbroken.  The carnage and destruction of such attacks are unspeakable
always.  But, coming as this one did in the midst of a Seder celebration for
the beginning of Pesach (Passover), I was even more horrified.  The
senseless and brutal killing of people while participating in acts of
worship strike at the very heart of all that people of faith hold sacred.
If the intent of the bomber was to 'hurt' in every sense of the word, his
choice of location last night did that.  Physically, emotionally,
psychologically and spiritually, the wounds of last night will bleed for a
very long time.

Whether by a Palestinian militant at a Seder celebration in Netanya last
night or by a Jewish settler in a mosque in Hebron a few years ago, such
acts display an arrogant disregard not only for the faith of those killed
and wounded but also I believe for the faith of the one carrying out the
attack.  At the heart of all three monotheistic traditions is a firm
commitment to life as a hallowed gift of God.  We violate the very essence
of our being as children of God when we take it upon ourselves to decide
that another's life is expendable - no matter the cause.

For Christians, we observe Holy Thursday this night, a time that we remember
God's unfailing love for us through the sharing of a meal.  But, it is also
a time when we recall and acknowledge our own denial, betrayal and desertion
of that love, choosing to give ourselves over to the deadly powers of this
world rather than to the healing and life-giving power of God.  Christ
stands in stark contrast to the ways of death and calls us to another way.

Tonight, may we Christians, particularly those of us in the West, be willing
to face our own betrayals and make a real and deep repentance. If we do,
then maybe we will finally see the humanity of Israelis and Palestinians -
Jews, Muslims and Christians - alike, see the pain and scars of both, and be
moved to finally deal with the roots of the violence here in order to save
the lives of others.

"Ah holy Jesus, how hast thou offended that man to judge thee hath in hate
pretended?  By foes derided, by thine own rejected, O most afflicted.

Who was the guilty?  Who brought this upon thee?  Alas, my treason, Jesus
hath undone thee.  'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee; I crucified
thee."  (Johann Heermann, Herzliebster Jesu)

In penitence,


Rev. Sandra Olewine
United Methodist Liaison - Jerusalem