God of peace and lover of justice, we lament Hamas’ brutal surprise attack on Israel and all the lives that have been lost; and we lament every lost opportunity for peace with justice, year after year, epoch on epoch, that could have kept this renewed war from the pages of history. We pray for restraint on the part of Israel, which, though publicly pledged to an unprecedented retaliation to Hamas’ unprecedented violence, can only make matters worse by keeping its promise. All the the people of Israel and Palestine deserve peace, freedom, and the right of national self-determination. Only by your grace will those who hold power in the region be able to find the courage and inspiration to pledge that these dark, dark days will at last portend the beginning of the end of darkness. Send all your angels, God of mercy; send grace upon grace. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Photos: At top: a Palestinian girl I met in Jericho on my first pilgrimage in 2007. At left: a resident rushing to shelter today as air raid sirens sounded in Ashkelon, Israel; Tamir Kalifa, New York Times