Salaam and grace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ the risen from the dead, and from Jerusalem, the Mother City of our faith, the city of the Resurrection.

Easter in Jerusalem
April 11th, 2004


Salaam and grace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ the risen from the dead, and from Jerusalem, the Mother City of our faith, the city of the Resurrection.

On behalf of our Episcopal Diocese – the Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East – both lay and ordained – I wish you God’s richest blessings this Easter-tide and encourage you to continue to pray for us and with us, so that He who rose from the dead will enable our land, His Land, the Land of the Holy One, to rise from the death in which it finds itself in.  Pray also that all of us be empowered by His Spirit to share hope in this hopeless situation, and bring life even in the midst of death.

How true are the words of the Psalmist: “for a thousand years are but as yesterday… or as a watch in the night!”  Psalm 90:4

It is Easter again.  I stand firm in my convictions that we are not in a post-Christian era, as some in the West are tempted to believe.  We are still first century Christians.  The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus is not only the event of yesterday.  It is the event of today, day in and day out, until His coming again in Glory.

In a recent letter received from a colleague, he writes that he finds it difficult to imagine how I and my people can live with such a situation. I guess he means – where humiliation, hopelessness, helplessness and impotency of world leaders to stop this madness, separation walls, destruction of homes and death at every corner in our lives, etc.  He asks how do you manage to stay sane? In my reply, I reminded him that we are the community of the resurrection, of the risen Lord who overcame death by dying and blessed us with life.  Did He not say: “I came that you may have life and have it abundantly.”  I went on to say what I have always believed, that death will not have the last word.  Life will:  Life with dignity, life with freedom, life with harmony, life with integrity, life with peace – just and truthful.  Such a life will not only have the last word, it will be a life that is worth living.  Thus, we continue to testify and continue to celebrate, knowing that  Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed for us, therefore, we can keep the feast, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and wickedness, the leaven of war and hostility – but with the unleavened bread of sincerity, truth, righteousness, love, and life at its best.

On we go. He walks with us.  He walks with you.  He will accompany us, until we arrive at our Emaus and will open our eyes to see Him risen at the breaking of bread.  We travel the land, we cross checkpoints, and border stations, we climb up walls, we weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice, sharing hope and bringing life to those who are dying to live.  (As we say in Arabic mayteen tan 3eesh)

Sisters and brothers in Christ,

There is much that I wish to share with you, not only about the events of that great and wonderful dawn: how God rolled the stone; how he met with Mary; what the angel said; how the news spread out and how the Resurrection became the corner stone of our faith. I also have much to share about what is happening in His Land and over there in the Home Land of Abraham, in Iraq.  However, I am challenged to quote Paul when he said:
“It was not with any show of oratory or philosophy” but simply to tell you had Christ not been raised from the dead, there would have been no Easter to celebrate. And those of us in our different churches would not be here, or there, to join hands and  voices in singing the Easter Halleluiah. 

It is this faith in the risen Lord – in the Resurrection, that keeps us going, and that causes us, in these most trying, tragic and difficult times to stand firm and never compromise our convictions in the ultimate victory of good and life.

Sisters and brothers in the risen Lord,

Let us not spend our lives, our times, and our energies, seeking the living among the dead, for He is not to be found there.  He is risen – as the angel said. People wish to see Him and where will they see Him if not in you and in me?  We are His living testimony. We are called to carry on with His mission: to break down all barriers, to heal the broken hearted, to give sight to the blind, to release the prisoners, and to set those in captivity and under occupation free.  This is the message of the Resurrection.  This is the way to bring Easter alive.  Only then, we will be able to celebrate with greater and greater joy, holding each other in prayer, and ever singing: Jesus Christ Is Risen Halleluiah. 

May God pour His blessings upon you, and keep you a blessing, a hope, and a light to lighten the world.  Amen and again Amen.

In the Risen Christ,

+ Riah Abu El-Assal
Anglican Bishop – Jerusalem.