Courier 2024 / 1 February

  • Publication

Inspiration and reflection 



General Secretary

Word from the editor

Confession and much humility 

“God is under the rubble in Gaza… He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. If we want to pray, my prayer is that those who are suffering will feel this healing and comforting presence.”  

Pastor, professor and author Munther Isaac preached these words of lament to his congregation in the West Bank in October. Shared on video and in print, they reverberated with challenge around the world in the months after as the piles of rubble grew higher.  

This issue of Courier deals with a subject which is controversial at any time. As this issue goes to press, death has been rained down on two peoples in land called Israel, Palestine, the Holy Land, the Middle East, the Levant.  

The subject “calls for confession and much humility,” says J. Daryl Byler, former Mennonite Central Committee service worker in Jordan.  

Through Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonites have been contributing the education among Palestinian people since the 1940s. In a land steeped with churches, some Mennonite groups have chosen to leave an impression through service rather than church planting.  

Mennonites also have a history with Jewish peoples. Early Anabaptists recognized the insights Judaism offers for our understanding of Jesus as a Jewish man and for resisting empire to pursue the reign of God. However, Mennonite and Jewish coexistence in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries were often not harmonious. In Nazi Germany, Mennonites were as likely to support the state as resist it.  

“Christians have used the Bible to support both anti-Jewish and Christian Zionist positions. One position suggests that Jewish people are less than fully human and the other suggests that they are specially chosen and favoured,” says J. Daryl Byler. “Neither of these positions is consistent with the core biblical themes: 

  • God loves the world 
  • All people are created in God’s image 
  • God calls us to act justly, love kindness, and walk humbly 
  • Jesus calls us to love our neighbour as self 
  • “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).  

This issue takes a step away from the horror unfolding through our screens every day to consider those biblical themes and to share stories.  

In our feature, scholars and practitioners share their readings of the Bible regarding the land and the peoples on it.  

Our Perspectives authors share how their sojourn in this land has shaped their faith.  

“We have to unlearn myths,” says Jonathan Kuttab, a Palestinian Christian with many points of intersection with Mennonites. 

There are myths about Palestinian people to be unlearned and there are myths about Mennonite innocence with Jewish people that require humility and confession.  

Holding power over other people, dehumanizing them does not build a world where anyone can flourish. It is certainly not the way of Jesus. Whether experiencing oppression, experiencing wealth, we all face temptations to blame others and destroy others for our own benefit – Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish, Mennonite or any other identity.  

But as followers of Jesus, as we read our Bibles, may it call us to speak for those who are suffering, no matter which “side” they identify with. Let us walk through the valley with those in the shadow of death. Let us stand against injustice, no matter who is perpetuating it. And let us repent of how often we fail to discern injustice, speak with courage and act with love.  

—Karla Braun is editor, writer and website coordinator for MWC. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  

Further reading on CCC 39.1


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