Next Service... Sun 21st Jul, 10:30am

Good morning
    Give   Watch Live   About   Contact

Minister's Blog

Recent blog entries...

Embrace the Middle East

Just over 6 months ago I was swimming in the sea of Galilee, never imagining in my wildest dreams the uncontrolled violence that was about to break out the very day after we flew home. Since then, our television screens and internet feeds have been full of the horrendous ongoing news from Gaza. And now, with the latest developments from Iran, there are genuine fears that war could spread more widely around the Middle East region.

Like many Christians, I struggled at first to know how to respond. I was brought up in an evangelical church setting that was very supportive of the Jews as God’s ‘chosen people’, and didn’t really differentiate between their Biblical role and the actions of the modern Israeli state. Over the years, particularly within the evangelical church, there has often been an uncritical acceptance of the role that Israel plays within the region, and a reluctance to speak out strongly against them. For much of my life I felt that tension too.   

However, over the years, as I have visited Israel on 3 separate occasions and interacted with some of our CoS partners, I have come to see a much more nuanced and complex story. It’s all too tempting to blame the current situation in Gaza on the inhumane actions of Hamas terrorists on 7th October. However, that simplistic narrative conveniently ignores the many preceding decades of oppression and suppression of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel. Even now, there is a reluctance among many world and Christian leaders to come out and condemn the actions of Israel in Gaza and across Palestine in general. Instead, any criticism is always bracketed by reference to the Hamas attacks, as if this somehow excuses a vastly disproportionate response from one of the strongest military powers on earth.

Let me be clear. No provocation can excuse the brutal slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians; the wholesale destruction of the Gaza strip; or the manmade conditions of famine and disease that are currently rife in that area. What continues to take place in the name of ‘retribution’ is completely disproportionate and vengeful, and I struggle to find any other word than genocide to describe the attempted actions of Israel.

If you have been struggling like me to know what to think or pray, I’d very much recommend you to watch a recent talk by the Revd Dr Munther Isaac. He is the pastor of Christmas Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, academic dean of Bethlehem Bible College in Palestine, and director of the Christ at the Checkpoint conference. You can watch his talk here, starting at just over 10 minutes in. I can warn you now that it is a hugely uncomfortable and powerful talk, one that has seriously challenged my assumptions and persuaded me of the need to speak out unequivocally on the actions of Israel in Gaza. There is an urgent need for us all to hold the situation in our prayers, and pray that God might finally embrace the Middle East with his healing peace and restoration. 

© 2024 Barrhead St. Andrew's Parish Church of Scotland. A charity registered in Scotland, no. SC015730
Website by Sanctus Media Ltd