The Centrality of Jerusalem and of Peace
The closing song of the Passover meal is "Next Year in Jerusalem." During the lifetime of Jesus, Passover was celebrated with a massive gathering of the Jewish people in Jerusalem. It was, by some accounts, the pinnacle of the year.
Yet, from 70 C.E. until the state of Israel became a reality1948, no Jews lived in freedom in Jerusalem. Even today the city remains plagued by violence.
Thus, our concluding prayer is that God will redeem us and the world by allowing Jews to live in freedom in Jerusalem. This same hope underlies the story of Jesus' triumphant return to Jerusalem as depicted in the Gospels. This story is so central to Christianity that it is one of the few that appears in all four Gospels. Jerusalem and peace go hand-in-hand.
To say "Next year in Jerusalem" is to say we will work to realize this vision. If Jerusalem is at peace, the world will be at peace. This dream unites not only Christians and Jews, but all those who seek to build a home for God here on earth.