The Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in Jordan held the first Christian-Islamic celebration of the Annunciation on Wednesday, March 28 under the patronage of Deputy Prime Minister His Excellency Jamal Sarayrah.
The ceremony was attended by bishops and heads of Churches in Jordan as well as representatives of the Iftaa Department, of the Chief Islamic Justice Department, of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, and of several Islamic associations. The ceremony was also attended by members of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, ambassadors accredited to Jordan, journalists and several media outlets from Jordan and abroad, Jordanian dignitaries, Christian and Muslim believers, and a Lebanese delegation representing “the Christian-Muslim Meeting Around Mary”.
In his address, Mr. Sarayrah said: “We meet today to take part in the celebration marking the Feast of the Annunciation at a time when all the Jordanians have been celebrating religious and national feasts while rallying around their wise leadership, considering the common denominators between Islam and Christianity, and believing that our success will only be attained by the success achieved by everyone despite the various cultural backgrounds and ideologies.”
He added that Jordan has over the years been consolidating relations among citizens based of the common denominator among religions, namely humanity. He continued that Jordan, while following the guidance of His Majesty King Abdullah II, launched several initiatives that have been adopted by the world to serve as bases for dialogue and brotherhood.”
Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media Fr. Rif’at Bader had earlier delivered an opening address. He said: “Since His Majesty King Abdullah assumed his constitutional responsibilities succeeding the late King Hussein, may his soul rest in peace, Christmas was marked as an official holiday for all citizens which was followed by an endorsement of an annual meeting of the Jordanian united family with His Majesty the King. This was followed by the meeting at the Baptism Site last year which also affirmed the Hashemite custodianship of the Site.”
He added: “As we jointly celebrate Christmas, we are here today to set the bases for a joint celebration of the Feast of Annunciation in order to have it added to the sublime Jordanian initiatives in the field of harmony. At the plenary session of the 71st United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2016, His Majesty King Abdullah said, “Jesus, whom we call ‘Christ Messiah’, is named 25 times. His mother Mary, called the ‘best of all women in creation’, is named 35 times. And there is a chapter in the Qur’an called ‘Maryam’.”
Fr. Bader continued: “We have gathered today as one family to say that we support the establishment of new and distinguished relations between Muslims and Christians not only in our holy country, but rather throughout the world. We have gathered to quench our thirst from the Amman Message, from the blessed waters of the River Jordan, from the “holiness of Nazareth, the city of Annunciation, from the holiness and purity of noble Jerusalem as well as from the non-abidance by unilateral and unfair resolutions. We have gathered to approve of teaching our children in schools the grace of love, fraternity and respect. We have gathered to approve of comparison of religions within the framework of academic and moral courses in universities– by neither creating conflicts with religions, nor abusing the beliefs of others, nor even to resorting to extremism and to violence. We have gathered here to endorse preaching the basic values foremost of which being love for God and neighbors. We have gathered here to say that the only allowed extremism is that relevant to love, brotherhood and altruism.”
Fr. Bader concluded his address by hoping that the Feast of Annunciation would be marked as a national annual feast for all Jordanians.
For his part, Secretary General of Lebanon’s “Christian-Muslim Meeting around Mary” Naji Al-Khoury hoped that the Islamic-Christian celebration marking the Feast of the Annunciation would become an annual national holiday, as is the case in Lebanon. He pointed out that this celebration marks a new stage in Christian-Muslim relations, as well as a flourishing stage of lasting friendship between the Jordanian and Lebanese peoples.
The ceremony included readings from the Holy Bible and the Noble Koran as well as religious hymns by the Spring of Choir and Al Falah Choir.