Sunday, 5 August 2012

Cucumber Conflict

In Saturday’s National Post newspaper there was a full-page ad by the Jewish social justice organization called B’nai Brith. Its headline asked why the United Church of Canada is against Israeli cucumbers. Apparently there is much discussion among UCC leaders about a proposal to boycott products that come from Jewish settlements in territory whose ownership is violently disputed with Palestinians. Evidently the Jewish Canadians in B’nai Brith don’t think that Canadian Christians should criticize Israel’s actions.

Since I attend a United Church and have a Jewish daughter and son-in-law (not to mention their baby boy, my adorable grandson) I was very interested in this advertisement. What a strange sensation I had looking at an ad that costs thousands of dollars published with the goal of criticizing my church by folks who purport to protect my precious Jewish grandson.  

But of course I already knew that there is nothing simple about the relationship between Christians and Jews (and Muslims).
The history and current details of the issues in the Middle East, especially, are convoluted and tragic. Anyone who hopes for peace in the Middle East weeps with longing.

But what about here, within the Canadian community and within my family? 

After seeing Saturday’s ad, it was reassuring to attend a worship service this morning at my local United Church.
 The minister happened to be preaching about the ancient, revered Jewish king, David. We heard about David’s shocking rebellion against God’s moral law in committing adultery with Bathsheba and then ensuring the death of her husband in battle. Shortly afterward, the godly prophet, Nathan, confronted the king with his evil behaviour, and David had the insight and humility to repent of his sin. His change in direction, his conversion, so to speak, is reflected in Psalm 51.  It is a wrenching cry from a broken heart for God's help.
As Jesus confirmed, none of us is without sin. An attitude of blind self-righteousness can cause deadly destruction. We all need to depend on God’s merciful forgiveness and to keep setting our feet back on the right path.

After the service I took out the page of newspaper and discussed the ad with some folks at church. Shaking our heads in grief at this public conflict between Jews and Christians in Canada, we talked about the human responsibility so clearly described in Micah 6: 

“Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God”

We reminded each other that not every Canadian Jew, nor even every Israeli, agrees with every Israeli action. Nor does every member of the UCC agree with every other member or their leaders (as if). As I joked with one friend, “even in a family people don’t agree”
She laughed, “I don’t even always agree with myself!”

Let’s refuse to be drawn by any group-think. Let’s educate ourselves and listen to those who disagree with us. And beyond that, let’s persevere in admitting our own failures. May we uphold justice but never give it prominence over humility and mercy.  And let’s continue to hope for true peace, “for with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).