Holy Week message from Jim Antal

by Jim Antal


May the peace of Christ be with you throughout this challenging week.  For those of you leading a local congregation, I pray that you might experience the events of Holy Week in a new, heart-opening way, and that God’s grace may be upon you in sharing your insight with your local church.
In addition to lifting you all in prayer, I join you in lifting the dozens of people in Brussels who were wounded or killed in yesterday’s attacks.  Like many of you, I was immediately transported back to the horror of the 2013 Marathon bombing.  As we learned then, our prayers and other expressions of solidarity matter.
I also now hold in my heart dozens of sisters and brothers who I met on a recent trip to the Middle East.  I joined twenty other leaders from the UCC, Disciples of Christ, Congregational Church of Southern Africa and United Church of Canada as we visited UCC partners in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel.  Our encounters were profound.
In keeping with the tensions of Holy Week, as I listened to the updates from the bombings in Brussels, I was reminded of the Chief Mufti of Egypt (the government-appointed Islamic leader empowered to issue Fatwas) and his counterpart in Beirut.  Both spoke to us at length about peace, and both extended to our delegation extraordinary hospitality. 
In keeping with the tensions of Holy Week, I lifted in prayer both my Jewish colleagues here in Massachusetts and those in Jerusalem as well as the founder of the BDS (Boycott-Divest-Sanction) movement with whom our delegation met in Ramallah, Palestine. 
We know that this week of tension will be resolved when the power of universal love is fully revealed.  But first there will be misunderstanding, stumbling, sacrifice, sorrow and grief.  
Please know that I join you in this journey as we respond to Jesus’ call.  And in a mystery beyond our understanding, as Holy Week unfolds, let us join our hearts with the victims in Brussels, the suffering refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, with peace-loving people from every faith tradition, and with the least of these among us. 
Strength and peace as you live into your call this Holy Week,
Jim Antal
Minister and President
Massachusetts Conference UCC
John Dorhauer, General Minister and President, offers this Holy Week reflection:

Jim Antal

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