|Father Chacour speaks to our team in Haifa, Israel|
“I am not asking you to take my side against my Jewish brother’s side. What would you have done to your noble self if you become one sided? You reduce all your capacity to become one more enemy in this cruel arena. We do not need any more enemies. We need one more friend.
|I truly enjoyed our fellowship with Father Chacour |
who has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace
Prize for his message of reconciliation in the Holy Land.
|One of the landmark buildings in Haifa, the Industrial Capital of Israel|
|Our team listens to a presentation from a Jewish Rabii in Jerusalem.|
As a kid growing up in a Christian home I could not help but think of many of these places in fantastical terms. Perhaps that the dirt in the city streets or stones/rocks in the land hold some special divine powers or for instance that one is seized by a great sense of holiness as they get close to the spot where Christ was born.
A song I remember us singing in the Kenyan village where I grew up went like this:
|Palestinian evangelical believers during a worship service |
in Bethlehem, Westbank
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, today I see John and Paul walking the streets of Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, today I see Jesus shining His light in the streets of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, today as I bow in prayer I desire to experience you with the rest of
the disciples of our Lord.
|The Western wall or Wailing wall in Old City of Jerusalem|
is the holiest site to Jews. Many come here to pray.
Little do we stop to ponder about the people in contemporary Israel, the Living Stones. When we do, often it is with a usual prophetic interest or the resigned political way of the never ending Palestinian/Israeli conflict. In the later sense, our quickest inclination is to read these biblical stories into the present day conflict and pass judgment without stepping back to interpret the standing of both peoples (and all peoples of the world for that matter) in light of Jesus’ work on the Cross that demolishes barriers. Nor do we look at it through the eyes of our Christian calling. That of a community of love with a mandate to carry out the ministry of reconciliation. The evangelistic responsibility to spread the Good News of salvation to all nations without prejudice.
|The Temple Mount. I am standing in the area where it is |
believed the Holy of Holies was located in 1st
century Herod's Temple
Father Chacour is one such man who embodies his most famous Compatriot from Galilee. He gathers to his self-identity all the possible and impossible contradictions of the Middle East. He is a proud Palestinian Arab Israeli Christian, an identity he is quick to point out to us that Westerners may not easily grasp because in our minds…goodness! A Palestinian is automatically a Muslim! To most of us, and falsely so, Muslims are normally blood-thirsty, inclined to violence and to trouble making.
|The Ethiopian section at the church of the |
Holy Suplicher in Old Jerusalem
That in itself is sacred and hallowed territory that we cannot violet through political posturing, prophetic speculation, or our sinful tendency to ethnocentrism and exclusion. Like all peoples around the world, Jew, African, European, American, Chinese he was born a baby with that first cry of innocence. Christ found him in Galilee and called him to come follow Him in the way of reconciliation.
|The Garden of Gethsemane and what happened there|
doted with these ancient Olive Trees that go back to the
time of Jesus made the most impression
on my Holy Land experience
In Chacours’ words: “What we have seen with our man from Galilee is that we have seen Him killed, we buried Him, and amazingly enough He got up and He left us with a very unique legacy. He left us an empty tomb and a risen Man. Here in our Galilee is the only place on earth where in a tomb it is officially written, “He is Not Here. He is Risen!”
|This spot inside the Church of All Nations in |
Gethsemen is believed to he the exact spot where
Christ agonized in prayer that night of the crucifixion
|As this scriptural reference at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem |
declares, death is not the end of the journey for those
who hope in God. Christ rose from the dead and so
shall all who believe in Him.