Waking up to the dark rainy skies on this beautiful Orthodox Palm Sunday morning was a reflection of the psychological darkness experienced in the Holy Land since September 2000 …
Waking up to the dark rainy skies on this beautiful Orthodox Palm Sunday morning was a reflection of the psychological darkness experienced in the Holy Land since September 2000 where between the Israeli occupation, Islamic rule and mother nature, the small Christian community suffers to continue the local traditions and customs reflecting deep Christian roots in Palestine. The Light of Christ usually shines everywhere there is witness for Christ's love and peace and will continue to be the beckon of hope in the troubled land of Christ's holy resurrection.
The glorious ecumenical Palm Sunday procession in our village of Taybeh has been disturbed many times especially during the first few years of bloodshed and violence where it was impossible to celebrate in public chanting .Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. (John 12:13) but this year the rain scared away most people from carrying out the march holding the symbolic palm branches reaffirming our acceptance of Christ. The parishioners of St. George Greek Orthodox Church marched in a procession around their church property three times in remembrance of Christ's glorious entrance into Jerusalem particularly two thousand years ago when Christ completed his retreat into the village of Taybeh, Biblical Ephraim. Taybeh is well known for receiving Jesus right before His crucifixion (John 11:54). This is why the Ecumenical Palm Sunday procession with the faithful from three churches, Orthodox, Latin (Roman Catholic) and Greek Catholic (Melkite) is one of the most beautiful events in the village of Taybeh because people are literally walking the footsteps of Christ as they march on the same holy ground that Christ walked two thousand years ago.
Since the Oslo Agreement the local Christians outside Jerusalem and Bethlehem have made a cultural and social compromise to celebrate Christ's birth together according to the new calendar on December 25th and Easter according to the old Julian calendar on the Orthodox Pascha so there can be a unity of celebration among the different Christian denominations since we are so few in numbers. However, since Jerusalem and Bethlehem are popular spots for pilgrims Christmas is celebrated three times, Catholic, Orthodox and Armenian and Easter twice according to the dates of both the new and old calendars.
God's promise to humanity for salvation is the only hope the small Christian community can cling too since wars, the Apartheid Wall, 50% unemployment and the totally collapsed economy has forced so many Palestinians to leave their beloved homeland seeking job opportunities in America, Australia and Europe. Since 2000, more than 3,000 Christians have left the Bethlehem area where if you visit today you will find Bethlehem a true prison with the Israeli army holding the key to the only gate that allows Palestinians with permits to enter. The misery we experience on the ground every day just to move around for school, work and basic daily needs is unexplainable and unimaginable for people that do not go to school with guns pointing at their heads as soldiers check the identification on passports. There is only one deliberate reason to have this inhumane treatment on a day to day basis and it truly feels that all efforts are being made to rid Palestine of all Palestinians.
We make an appeal to Christians in all corners of the world not to forget the Holy Land of Christ's birth, crucifixion and resurrection and show the ultimate solidarity for our small Christian community by coming and walking the footsteps of the Lord. We invite people from all over the world to come and receive the true light of Christ from the Life-Giving Tomb of Christ and worship our true God who died on the cross to save our sins and give us eternal life.