1st November 2023

Few people have written about the long tragedy in Israel-Palestine with such insight, compassion and realism as the late Kenneth Cragg, sometime Anglican bishop in Jerusalem and a lifelong scholar on the roles of Judaism, Islam and Christianity with their competing claims to ‘the Holy Land’. Successive attempts at purely ‘political’ solutions are self-defeating because they are built upon one side wielding the sword, which prompts the wielding of other ‘swords’ likewise. Can ‘success’ or ‘failure’ ever be politically ensured or enforced without a sort of built-in human ‘failure’ in their very success? ‘Does not peace,’ Cragg asks, ‘between and beyond these “swords” mean the pain of forgiveness, the bearing of wrongs and the release of something forever eluding the reach of the canons of power?’ As for Christianity, why is the Holy Land ‘holy’?

‘Christendom has frequently and shamefully betrayed such peace down the centuries by the “swords” of power quests. Original Christianity is grounded in the ministry and self-giving of Jesus, perceived at the very birth of the church as the insignia of the divine nature. God’s nature dramatized in Jesus a vindication of how bent it was towards us and at what cost, the cost being reciprocal to our entire need of what the divine nature undertook. There was . . . a when and a where in order that “whom we have in heaven” might be dependably known as the love that comes, and coming cares, and caring redeems. Then by grace and faith, a sort of divine emulation becomes the ground of our ethics and the clue to our whole condition.’

Let us ponder, and pray.

Keith Clements