Prayers for Iraqi Christians

Prayers for Iraqi Christians

by the Very Rev. Larry HolbenDean of the Alta California Deanery; Priest-in-Charge, St. Barnabas, Mt. Shasta

This symbol, "nun" in the Arabic alphabet, is the first letter of the Arabic word for "Nazarene," which is the name by which Iraqi Christians are called by the ISIS forces in the area.

ISIS has been marking the houses of Christians with this symbol (rather like the Nazi marking of Jewish homes and businesses with the Star of David during the Third Reich). This is obviously ominous, given the previous ISIS edict that Christians must either convert to its fundamentalist version of Sunni Islam, pay a tax (probably only a temporary measure until the victims are bled dry), or face death.

In this country, Christians are displaying this symbol as a sign of solidarity with Iraqi Christians, and as a reminder to pray for them. A good friend of our congregation at St. Barnabas, Mt. Shasta, local artist Atara Melo, an observant Jew, created this poster for us and we are displaying in our sanctuary. Atara has told us that as she painted the poster, she offered prayers to the God of Abraham for the suffering Christians of Iraq. A beautiful example of interfaith cooperation, I think.

Atara Melo is an experienced art therapist that has devoted 20+ years to working with an array of clients. She is also the inspiration behind A Melo Place, a center that "provides members a quiet and supported place to be creative or learn new skills" using a variety of different artistic mediums and materials. The center believes: "Every human being is capable of creating and enjoying aesthetically pleasing experiences, and everyone can create something worthwhile!"

Atara has a Master’s Degree in Social Science and Education and a B.S. in Anthropology, with certificates in Applied Cultural Anthropology and in Native American Studies. She has lectured widely in Siskiyou County on the topics of anthropology and sociology.

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