Today I welcomed back Ian Mills, Warden of Marygate House, on Holy Island, from several weeks of his sabbatical leave which he used to serve Palestinian charity workers in the West Bank. Today, also, the Director of our St Cuthbert's Centre here sent me the following message from his United Reformed Church press officer:

Three major world religions regard Israel/Palestine as a 'holy land'. Jews, Christians and Muslims cannot understand their spiritual traditions without some appreciation of the long history that has unfolded in Palestine/Israel and the wider region.

The deeper theological perspectives of the three faiths include the wisdom that all people have their place in God's purposes, and that people of each faith have a fundamental responsibility to safeguard the common interest. Muslims, Christians and Jews are all people of a robust peace that is rooted in God's unconditional love for us all. This is where hope and future lie.

It is not right that the rich spirituality of our traditions is corrupted into hatred and violence, demeaned into a narrow stridency seeking political or military advantage for one interest - at the cost of the well-being of others or of the common good.

It is scandalous that the wise traditions of our historic faiths should be subverted by powerful secular interests to justify defending any one community at any price. Such manipulation can never be for the common good or the wider peace. Political and military power, disconnected from the lively spiritual God-centred peace at the heart of our three religions, offers no prospect of healing or justice for anyone.

Yet our three faiths are also the means by which these precious gifts may be offered to Palestine/Israel - and to the wider world. If Islam, Judaism and Christianity fail in this, our faiths will be roundly condemned and rightly consigned to the dustbin of history.

Stuart Dew Press Officer. United Reformed Church

Posted at 07:44am on 13th January 2009
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