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Christians in Palestine prepare to celebrate Orthodox Easter, Sunday May 1
By Maria Khoury
We are sending you sincere greetings from the sacred land of our Lord’s Resurrection on this most joyous Holy Saturday where the Miracle of the Holy Fire was received from the Holy-Life-Giving-Tomb-of-Christ in Jerusalem by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch His Beatitude Theophilos III.
We prayerfully and anxiously waited until 5:30 pm to receive the Miracle of the Holy Fire in our small Christian village of Taybeh while the whole time it was carried by the altar boys and scouts (boys & girls) in a beautiful procession from Jerusalem to the city of Ramallah and Bethlehem where surrounding Christian communities went with their own church leadership and scouts to receive the the flame and place on their altar table for the Midnight Holy Resurrection Service. This is such a beautiful ancient tradition and brilliantly celebrated ceremony but Palestinians do not have the freedom of movement to get into Jerusalem without permits thus “making lemonade out of lemons” more than 14 scouts groups (Christian & Muslim) were in Ramallah anxiously waiting for this special moment where the Holy Fire passed via Israeli military checkpoints, to come to the other side of the “Apartheid Wall” reaching the faithful.
May the True Light of Christ reach your hearts instantly.
For the first time, the Scouts Club from Gaza participated in the parade in the West Bank, thanks to “the generosity” of Israel to give them permits.
I have no idea why all Christians of Gaza (since the number is so low, less than 1500) cannot freely access this most holy city of Jerusalem and visit their relatives,some living right here in Taybeh but military occupation is beyond my understanding. Our own Taybeh Scouts were almost 100 boys and girls marching in Ramallah and Taybeh leading the church leaders holding the flame from the Miracle of the Holy Fire.
In the past, when my husband David Khoury, was the mayor of Taybeh, it was a great honor to officially represent the community and march in Ramallah next to local Christian/Muslim leaders, like the prime minister of Palestine and the governor of Ramallah reflecting good relations among Christians and Muslims in Palestine which unfortunately “the war on terror” and “let’s go get the terrorists” has destroyed normal life for us Christians in the Middle East. In the last few years it has been a nightmare with the suffering experienced in Syria and Iraq. May God forgive the people who start wars and support state violence for their own economic gains in selling weapons to the wrong people.
Wishing all of our Orthodox friends a blessed Holy Pascha, a most glorious Resurrection. And wishing and hoping for all of our friends to hear what the angel said to the women in today’s gospel: “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay…” Matthew 28:5-7
Please come walk the footsteps of Christ, (and include Taybeh) it almost feels like nothing will change in my lifetime. Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
“O Gladsome Light, of the Holy glory of the Immortal Father, heavenly Holy, blessed Jesus Christ!” (Holy Saturday Morning Prayers)
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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.