Bittersweet Greetings from the Holy Land
Yesterday, our guest preacher was supposed to be Archbishop Hosam Naoum, the leader of the Anglican Church in the Holy Land. The war between Israel and Hamas upended those plans.
However, the Digital Cathedral came to the rescue and we were able to include a short message from Archbishop Naoum during the Sunday service, and we’re grateful to be able to share it with you here.
Greetings and peace, dear friends from Jerusalem, the City of Peace and special greetings to Bishop Marion and Dean Randy and the Cathedral community, especially our friends of the National Cathedral in Washington.
It is really a blessing to be together, albeit virtually, but especially as we are connected as the body of Christ. We bring you meetings from our people here in the Diocese of Jerusalem, from our clergy and the faithful throughout the diocese. And, we thank you for your continued prayer, for continued support that you have given to the Diocese of Jerusalem.
And to me personally, it is really kind of … I would say sad that I couldn’t be with you in person to deliver this message, but I take this opportunity and we thank God for technology, and that allows us to connect, even though, as I said, as we are apart, across the deep blue sea, to connect and to give you this message.
And I hope that this message will bring some hope to you and, and also that can connect us even deeper together so that we continue to grow as the body of Christ and as partners in the gospel of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who brings us together as siblings, as sisters and brothers.
Today, you know, as we all know, that the Holy Land lives and goes through a very difficult time of war and fighting and violence. We know that many lives have been wasted, unfortunately many civilians affected. And as the rages of war continue in our region, you know, our hearts continues to bleed in a sense. We continue to cry for the loss of so many lives. So we urge you at this time to, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, to pray for the peace within the homeland of Jesus where he walked and where he lived, and preached and taught and healed.
And of course, you know, it is a constant reminder to all of us that this land also witnessed the wonderful work of Jesus Christ on the Holy Cross and his resurrection that gave us not only the motivation, but it gave us the living hope that in Christ we shall overcome. And we hope that for this land, that the peace will prevail. We hope that, reconciliation will be established among the different peoples. And we know, in the time of war, there’s so much sense of enmity, there’s so much sense of hatred, as people are suffering suffer across the divide. It is a chance for all of us, as Christians around the world, to be united. We have done this in the past, and we will continue to do that. We are united in prayer.
We’re united in thanksgiving to our Lord Jesus Christ, who continues to inspire and empower us to do his work in this world. I hope that my message at this time will be not only a comfort and encouragement to you, but also that I and my people and all those in my care will be also encouraged as we are connected together. Because the Bible teaches us that if one member of the body of Christ helps or suffers, we all suffer with it. And at this time, around the world, we know that there are so much suffering, whether it is in Ghana at this time of the floods, or whether it is in Africa, or whether it is the Ukrainian-Russian War, or in many, many other places, including our beloved Holy land. There’s so much of suffering in around the world.
But we will continue to pray and to work for peace and justice and reconciliation among the different peoples of our world. Our planet, is a wonderful place for all of us to live. And there’s so much to share. There’s so much to care for, including the climate, including including our own mother Earth, the planet that we are all enjoying. So therefore, I think as human beings, we continue to concentrate on the ministry that is entrusted to us to care for God’s creation, and above all, to care for its humanity.
As human beings, we are the crown of creation. I would like also to share with you some of the devastating events that have taken place. But I’m sure that you have all have heard about our beloved hospital in Gaza that was bombed a few days ago.
This was a tragic event. The massacre that took place there just continues to remind us about the human suffering in our world today. Maybe the reason for this is the war between Israel and Gaza. But we are quite certain that the human shortcoming, our failing to achieve the full humanity of becoming fully humans, we are on this path, on this pilgrimage, and I hope people will realize — whether they are leaders of the world, whether those in authority — that they will continue to seek peace and pursue it.
But also at this time, we are really kind of urging people to remember what it means to live according to our baptismal covenant, to seek the dignity of every human person, That is our calling as Christians.
Now, of course, we live in a multi-faith world where people who have different traditions and affiliations, but I think we as Christians, our witness continues to be a very important voice in the midst of the wilderness of this world today. We join hands of people of goodwill everywhere, people of faith, so that we, especially here in the Holy Land, as people of the children of Abraham, people of different faiths — whether Jews, Muslims, or Christians — continue to see the common ground that we have to continue to look at our common history. For over 14 centuries together, the three of us have lived side by side. It is time that we remember that suffering can only divide. Suffering can only bring more agony, can leave us in places where we are divided and segregated and alienated from one another.
But it is, I think, time that the whole world continues to pray for peace in the land of peace, peace in the land where peace is missing. And that’s exactly the message that I would like to bring to you today.
I would like to also to thank all of you who have been stood in solidarity with me personally, and also with the Diocese of Jerusalem during the difficult times that we are going through. And let me tell you that it has been, uh, one of the difficult times that I personally have experienced. I continue to thank God for the many, many multitude of prayers and for those who have given so much support to me personally. And have prayed for encouragement and support during this time. So, thank you very much to you and to everyone around the world, around the Anglican Communion and around the globe for your continued prayers and support.
You know, the Diocese of Jerusalem, of course, continues to be — along with many other churches around the world and especially here in this Holy Land — continues to be a beacon of hope in the midst of suffering, in the midst of confusion. Especially at this time, our hospitals and our clinics, our rehabilitation centers, our schools, and so many other institutions that care for the needy and the disadvantaged continue to be a source of hope and a beacon of light and life in the midst of suffering and agony.
Today, the Diocese of Jerusalem, together with its congregations and our clergy, are working very, very, very hard in order to care for their people. And those who are in their parishes, not only Anglicans or Episcopalians, but everybody in their surroundings. They continue to serve and to heal and to offer advice and to encourage people, so that we may come and go through all of this, and they come out stronger and more blessed even.
It’s difficult to see that right now, but I know that God calls us and God allows such things to happen in our lives so that we may take these not only as challenges and problems, but also as opportunities for growth, opportunities for learning and opportunities where we become better humans and better Christians.
The Diocese at this time also continues to struggle, I have to say, because of the absence of our pilgrims and the international community that cannot come and be physically with us. This brings even further, I would say, sadness, that, you know, the holy sites and our churches and communities are missing pilgrims and friends who continue to come and visit and to be with us and stand in solidarity and to worship with us on a daily basis.
So, having said that, I want you to remember that once this is over, the Holy Land continues to miss all of you, continues to call its faithful to come and see, to come and walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and to walk together as a community of faith, as community of Christians, as the body of Christ.
And I hope that, once pilgrimages and people can start coming back to Jerusalem, it’ll be an opportunity again for building further relationships and also connecting with our congregations and the dioceses around the Anglican Communion and even beyond. It is important that the Diocese of Jerusalem as well continues to be a church.
We have learned over history that the church has a very important voice in the midst of suffering and war, especially. We all know it’s not easy to speak the language of love, the language of reconciliation and peace building. But you know, we are called to be the church more than ever. That is our calling. And that’s why the ministry of peace and reconciliation continues to be at the heart of the Diocese of Jerusalem, at the heart of our Christian calling in to be disciples of Christ, to be people who live in community and respect the dignity of every human person. And that is a calling upon everybody, not only in Holy Land, to gather together for the end of war, the end of suffering, not only in the Middle East or specifically in the Holy Land, but around the world. That’s our calling Christians.
So, therefore, at this time, I call you for prayer, and please continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. You know, how can we forget Jerusalem? The sun must tell us, no one can forget their own right hand, and therefore, we cannot forget Jerusalem. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all those who dwell in it. People of every faith, people of every background, because the tapestry and the mosaic, the mosaic nature of Jerusalem, continues to be one of the best messages that we send out to the world.
Therefore, working for peace and building bridges continues to be the only solution for people in this region. And I hope that more than ever, that this time would be a chance for a peace process that will take us to the next phase of our lives here in the Holy Land, where peace can be not only based on justice, but it can be maintained for a long time, sustainable and lasting peace in the place of peace.
And finally, I would like also to request your support, your presence and, you know, to feel and to suffer even spiritually with us at this time as we try to find the way out of this crisis that we go through at this time. The needs in the Diocese of Jerusalem are gonna be incredible and significant, especially as we look not only on restoring the infrastructure in the hospital in Gaza, but also all the other affected institutions that are going also through very serious difficulties because of the closure, because of the nature that we have reached to a point where everything is shut down. We hope that this will not take long until we go back to some normalcy, and our institutions continue, will continue to function as usual, and they continue to be sanctuaries and also places of refuge to many people around in our communities.
Thank you very much, Dean Randy, thank you very much, Bishop Mariann, for your wonderful hospitality, for extending the invitation to preach at your cathedral on Sunday. I hope that I can answer to this wonderful invitation, this very gracious hospitality that you have given to me personally, and I can do that in the near future. ‘;
But for now, again, thank you very much. Continue to pray for us as much as we pray for you, your Diocese of Washington, and also the Cathedral and the community and the family of this wonderful place of yours.
May God bless you all, and best wishes from me and for my Diocese and my clergy at this time. God bless you all.