As many of you know, I have been to the Holy Land several times now, both on pilgrimage and as a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams, serving in Hebron. So earlier this month it was great to see people I’ve become friends with over these past years. At the same time, it was distressing to see the changes in Hebron. There are more shop closures in the Old City, because very few people go there any more. My friends Jamal and Abed and Muneer are barely able to stay open—and I think part of the reason they do is as an act of resistance. A number of the military checkpoints, which have been rebuilt and fortified over the past couple of years, now have wooden fences around them, hampering CPT and other international groups from their monitoring activities. Just south of there, the Bedouin village of Umm Al Khair is experiencing difficulties because of the neighbouring Israeli settlement. The entire village was moved to their present location in 1948, but now the settlement wants them gone. In the Negev, the village of Al Arakib has been demolished 150 times! The handful of people who remain continue to rebuild rudimentary shelters. All over, things look bleak for these people and so many others.
I find it easy to despair and lose hope in these situations—and I’m only an observer. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be living through these atrocities. Yet our readings offer me hope. A couple of weeks ago we heard God tell the prophet Habakkuk to write down the vision clearly, to keep it present. And this weekend Jesus tells the disciples a parable “about their need to pray always and not lose heart”. That is our task as a follower of Jesus: As difficult or as hopeless as a situation may seem, I am called pray and not lose heart.
That advice goes for us as well here at Assumption. As we experience ups and downs with donations and hopes for a complete restoration, God tells us to not lose heart. We are to have the vision before us (thus the importance of our Pastoral Plan and Assumption Cares), we are to pray, and not lose heart. This weekend, if all goes according to plan, the washroom in the church will be back in service. And then before long the new heating system should be keeping us all comfortable as we gather for worship. Let us keep praying and not lose heart, that with God’s help we complete the restoration and offer meaningful service to Windsor’s West Side.