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Taybeh Christian Palestinians celebrate: Receiving the Holy Fire Once Again
By Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.
We have just celebrated the Miracle of the Holy Fire in Taybeh in a most magnificent way at the outskirts of our village approximately 5:30 pm local time on this Great and Holy Saturday while waiting all afternoon when this great miracle occurred once again in Jerusalem.
“O Gladsome Light, of the Holy glory of the Immortal Father, heavenly Holy, blessed Jesus Christ!” (Holy Saturday Morning Prayers)
The local priests, Fr. Daoud, Fr. Jack and Fr. Aziz, of all three churches and Fr. Peter who came from Jerusalem with the choir chanting, and the Taybeh Scouts beating the drums marched again this year to meet our cousin Ibrahim with his son Philip, who went to the city of Ramallah, where the faithful brought the flame from Jerusalem for the Palestinian Christian s who cannot reach the Holy City due to lack of permits. Many residents of Taybeh, were in the streets for the ecumenical procession which was simply glorious although a bit cloudy with a sprinkle of rain.
The solemn and beautiful procession in our village ended at St. George Church, where Fr. Daoud placed the flame on the altar to await the faithful for the Resurrection service of Holy Pascha: “Come ye and receive light from the unwaning Light, and glorify Christ, Who arose from the dead.”
In the last few years during Great and Holy Saturday, I have delivered the same message from the Holy Land. But it has been a great spiritual joy to keep reminding friends about the miracle that appeared for the first time during the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Luke 24:4; Matthew 28:1-4) This magnificent miracle is at the core of our Christian presence in the Holy Land The Miracle of the Holy Fire received today by His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem was broadcasted live on Palestine TV.
The brilliant ceremony is considered a miracle because there is no explanation for the way the Holy Fire appears from the Holy Life Giving Tomb of Christ actually coming down from Heaven. Many personal accounts have called the miracle “incredible” and similar to lighting. The Holy Fire at the moment is in flight to many surrounding countries that have less than three hour flights by private transportation including Cyprus, Greece, Russia, Romania.
The Christian community in the Holy Land witnessed the True Light of Christ by receiving the Holy Fire today so that all who are not living in the land of Christ’s Holy Resurrection can believe that Christ is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).
It is so difficult this year to wish everyone a blessed and glorious holy Pascha knowing in Syria the new rules from fanatics is that it is forbidden to wear or display the cross in public.
It is forbidden to ring the church bells in public. Also, Christians are asked to pay a tax or convert to Islam; how sad that the new Middle East that America wishes to develop has really gone back one thousand years in history. May our Risen Lord who has had victory over death have mercy on those suffering in different places of the world! May the peace of Christ and the knowledge that our Lord offers everlasting life continue to bring us joy and give us hope. Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Please accept my humble wishes for a glorious Holy Pascha from the Land of Christ’s Holy Resurrection!
For my first time witness on the Miracle of the Holy Fire view, click here.
Photos (below) from St. George Church in Taybeh
Photo credit : Buthina Canaan Khoury
(Maria C. Khoury is a writer and activist based in Taybeh, Palestine, the only all Christian Palestinian village in the West Bank. Reach her at email@example.com.)
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Palestine Christian Writer, Blogger at St. George Greek Orthodox Church
Maria (Kouremenou) Khoury is the author of Orthodox Christian children's books including Christina Goes to the Holy Land, walking the footsteps of Christ. She is a graduate of Hellenic College (1982), Harvard University (1985) and Boston University (1992) with a doctor of education degree. Born in Tripoli, Greece, she was raised in Denver, Colorado. On Dec 31, 2009 she was included on the top 4 Human Rights Champions list by DC Human Rights Examiner including the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Hilary Clinton.
Maria is the author of Witness in the Holy Land (distributed by www.HolyCrossBookstore.com), a publication reflecting personal experiences living under military occupation with her husband the former Mayor of Taybeh, David Canaan Khoury and three children Elena, Canaan, and Constantine. Her articles have been published world-wide in numerous newspapers and magazines and have been translated to various languages bringing awareness of the Christian presence in the Holy Land.
Maria Khoury has been the Taybeh Oktoberfest organizer since 2005.She divides her time between her homes in Boston and Taybeh, travels throughout the world promoting the Christina Books and making presentations about the dwindling Christian community in Palestine.She encourages people to stay at the new Taybeh Golden Hotel and experience rural life in Palestine.