Monday, May 02, 2005
Taybeh Celebrates Easter Despite Occupation
Receiving the Holy Fire in the Village of Taybeh
By Maria C. Khoury
“Christ is Risen” was proclaimed and celebrated at St. George Greek Orthodox Church following a most beautiful and solemn procession of receiving the Holy Fire from the Life Given Tomb of Christ on this Holy Saturday afternoon in the Holy Land. Since Palestinians cannot freely travel into Jerusalem, our cousin Ibrahim traveled to the city of Ramallah where the Holy Light was received from Jerusalem. Ibrahim with his wife Christine and three year old son Philip carried the Holy Light in a lantern to the entrance of Taybeh where everyone was anxiously waiting with the boy scouts and girl scouts marching to the beat of the drums in an extraordinary ecumenical procession including all three Christian denominations of Taybeh.
The Holy Fire is carried to each church in preparation for the midnight Resurrection Service. As we chant in our Midnight Resurrection Service: "Come ye and receive light from the unwaning Light, and glorify Christ, Who a rose from the dead."
Here in the West Bank, following the Oslo Agreement, the local Christians made an agreement to celebrate Christmas according to the new calendar and Easter according to the old calendar so that everyone can celebrate together since we are in such small numbers as a population. However, Jerusalem and Bethlehem are not part of this agreement since they receive many visitors and continue to celebrate Christmas three times (Catholic, Orthodox and Armenian) and Easter twice according to the new and old calendar.
The miracle of the Holy Fire is the most glorious and magnificent celebrated event in the Holy Land. The modern day miracle of the Holy Fire which continues to happen every year, at the same time, at the same place, at the same location and inspires pilgrims to visit this sacred land to experience and see with their own eyes Christ in our Midst.
In Luke 16:15 we read that Jesus said: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" We witness the truth and received the Holy Fire today so that all who are not blessed to live in the land of Christ's Holy Resurrection can believe that Christ is the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (John 1:9)
"And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things." (Luke 24:47)
Our Christian community is small and diminishing but with God's help and your prayers can survive the terrible occupation, dreadful checkpoints, the collapsed economy, the segregation wall that is currently going up and the daily hardships that make life unbearable. Truly the Lord is Risen!
May your Pascha be blessed and most holy and may all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who celebrated last month receive our wishes late.