In college, I was part of the “Model Arab League” which is like the UN but just for
Arab countries. We would meet, debate issues, and pass resolutions just like the
real Arab League. This model League gave students a chance to walk in another’s
shoes and opened us up to the struggles the region faces. One year, a college
representing Syria was getting fed up with all the politics – they were not
allowed a voice or vote in military matters. They walked into the general
assembly, strode right up to the League General, and placed a (fake) grenade on
the table and ran out. The image of that grenade and the model Syrian delegation has stuck in my mind right up to the present when tensions are running high.
Like watching the Model Arab League fall apart after the grenade incident, I am
troubled and distraught at the current situation in Syria and our response to
it. It feels like we've been backed into a corner where there are no good
choices. On one hand, we've seen the images of the gas attack; some argue that
if we have the power to do something about atrocities we should. On the other
hand, others argue that if we attack, far more complicated questions become
reality and none of those questions have easy answers. In other words, if we
don’t respond, it’s bad and if we do respond, it’s bad.
Closer to home, an open ended attack on Syria may involve people and hardware from San Diego, even families at Saint John's, people who you and I love. Even as our politicians debate involvement, Miley Cyrus and Bob Filner are taking a larger share of the “news.” But I think getting involved in Syria will affect San Diego more than celebrities and the vacant seat in the Mayor’s office.
In our Bible study on Wednesday, we read the following: [Jesus said] “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately. Nation will rise against nation,
kingdom against kingdom, earthquakes, famines, and plagues will come.” (Luke
21:9-10) He was telling folks back then to be ready and look for the
Kingdom of God and not be weighed down with the worries of this life. I think he
is repeating the same message today.
Although the situation in Syria and our role appear bleak – bad if you do, bad if you don’t – that is not God’s way. I am confident there is a way through this
situation that has not yet appeared. Perhaps that way has been skewed by media
reports and the stubbornness of our leaders who often seem themselves to be at
war with each other. Please pray for God’s peaceable kingdom and that the hearts and minds of the world’s leaders will actively seek and search the way of God who knows what is best for Syria.
The Church of England is taking an active role in seeking a way for peace. In July, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said it is “absolutely clear”
Christians are being persecuted in Syria, based on his recent visit there and a
report, Syria: church on its knees. Let us pray this prayer published by the Church of England.
Spirit of wisdom and grace,
the power of truth and judgment;
we pray for all who are working for peace in the tangled
conflict of Syria today.
For international leaders holding a thread of control,
for the politicians holding a thread of power,
for the religious leaders holding
a thread of authority,
for the fighters holding a thread of influence,
and the citizens clinging to a thread of hope.
unity through the untangled order of justice.
reconciliation through truthful dialogue.