Salaam. I count it my duty to keep you informed of events as they unfold. In the past two weeks I have visited Lebanon, met with Prime Minister Tony Blair, visited Nablus, and I am preparing to leave on Monday, September 25th…
My Dear Friends,
Salaam. I count it my duty to keep you informed of events as they unfold. In the past two weeks I have visited Lebanon, met with Prime Minister Tony Blair, visited Nablus, and I am preparing to leave on Monday, September 25th where I will spend two weeks in Australia meeting with Churches, Members of Parliament and other Church and government officials.
Last week in Lebanon, I spoke with religious leaders and had the opportunity to spend time with the injured, the grieved, the homeless, and the frightened. I could not count the number of bridges destroyed by the thirty-five day war on Lebanon. I came back renewed in my commitment to build bridges of peace, healing, and reconciliation among our Middle East Communities.
I returned to Jerusalem to find many letters on my desk from friends throughout the world responding to my appeal. They offer support including initial financial assistance for which I am very grateful. I must admit that I am greatly encouraged, and my promise and mandate is to go back and assist some of those families who have been directly or indirectly affected by the war, among them a few families in Galilee and Haifa. In the midst of such deep sorrow, and in our despair, God brings hope to us through you.
On Sunday, September 10th I was one of six invited to meet with Prime Minister Tony Blair at the British Consulate in Jerusalem. I reminded the Prime Minister of our conversation at a meeting on February 18th, 2003 just before the invasion on Iraq. He had said, .Going to war on Iraq will pave the way for peace in the Middle East.. I had then responded: .Mr. Prime Minister, the shortest way to Baghdad goes through Jerusalem. Once peace comes to Jerusalem; peace will come to the whole world..
On the following Sunday, the day that extremists attempted to burn the Churches in Nablus, (including Good Shepherd Anglican Church), I, with Patriarch Michael Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Bishop Munib Younan, the Evangelical Lutheran Bishop of Palestine and Jordan, met with Muslim leaders who unanimously denounced these acts of violence. They shared with us their commitment to build bridges through dialogue and understanding.
In the world at large we need to build a global community with the same foundation. There is a need for leaders of the world, religious and political, to be careful with their words. I am reminded of a saying that: .words are like eggs, for once words are spoken, and once eggs are broken are not the easiest things to repair.. All of us belong to one world, and we all need to join hands and make this world a piece of heaven. There is hard work to be done and there are difficult challenges before us. Through the efforts of all believers who trust in God, we can find and do His will. We can bring the peace that He so deeply desires for us.
"Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ."
Corinthians I, 12:12
In, With, and Through Christ,
The Rt. Revd. Riah H. Abu El-Assal
The Diocese of Jerusalem
(Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria)