The word--when it happens to cross my mind--always conjures the face of our friends, Hananya and Devorah, and the notion of hospitality. That's because Netanya was the first stop on our tour of Israel, and the first thing we saw, upon opening the double doors of our hotel, was an offering of juice: a half dozen trays of orange, grapefruit, and pineapple juice. I chose grapefruit (I always do), and as I sipped the slightly foreign concoction, I tried to make myself believe I was really standing in an Israeli hotel.
Hananya and Devorah live in Netanya. We met them in line at LAX and formed an instant connection, one that deepened during our conversations in Toronto and at Ben Gurien airport, and bloomed altogether at the end of our trip, when they drove from Netanya to our hotel in Jerusalem and swooped us up for a dinner of falafel and hummus in their favorite restaurant in the Arab section of town. Over that meal, we shared Jesus with them. If I live to be a hundred, I will never experience a higher privilege than what I was given during those three hours--the chance to tell my Jewish friends how much they are loved by my Jewish Savior.
This morning, I am grieving the violence that occurred in a market in Netanya. For three weeks now, I've been feeling an urgency to pray for Hananya and Devorah, and every time I stop to pray, I find myself praying for their safety. I am praying this morning that they were elsewhere when that young, smiling Palestinian blew himself up. I am praying that Devorah found no need to visit the market at that hour; that Hananya was safe in his office; that their son Yonathan was ensconsed in a classroom.
And I am wishing for peace for my friends--and the land that I love like my own.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces." For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, "Peace be within you." Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good. --Psalm 122:6-9