Samia Khoury: Holy Saturday Message

Posted on Apr 13, 2020

Our Sabeel elders from Jerusalem shared lessons of liberation and spiritual survival in the midst of continued dispossession, health crises, and international chaos. During this Easter season, with disruption and death looming, we gathered together to remember that just as Jesus died on the cross to reveal the eternal, divinity has been revealed in the midst of physical destruction. This powerful service of prayers, readings, and hymns brings hearts closer together as closures continue to separate us.

Samia Khoury writes from East Jerusalem:

I know some of you attended this zoom service on Holy Saturday, but just in case you did not and are interested, here is the link for it:  https://www.facebook.com/fosnalive/videos/vb.126793740682727/2854034748007057/?type=2&theater . 

Below is the text of her presentation:

Al-Salaam Aleykum, Peace Greetings to all of you from Jerusalem.

While Easter is the most important season for Christians all over the world, it is specially meaningful for Palestinian Christians, and more so for those of us living in Jerusalem, supposedly the city of peace, when in reality there is no peace.

People travel from all over the world to walk the way of the Cross in commemoration of the crucifixion of our Lord and to rejoice at his Resurrection. But this year with the Corona Virus Pandemic the streets of Jerusalem and its hotels are empty. And the doors of the churches are closed. For a change the whole world is joining us in our via Dolorosa which we have been walking through under a harsh military occupation, not much different from the days of Christ under Roman occupation.

While all the country is locked down, we empathize with the people of Gaza who have been under siege for the last fourteen years. And despite the need for solidarity from everybody in the region to face the challenge of this monster of a virus, we continue to watch Palestinian homes being demolished and young people thrown into prison without charge or trial. Farmers are losing more and more of their land to Israeli settlers. As if that is not enough, the settlers have been flooding whatever land they have not yet confiscated with contaminated water and pesticities. Even when Palestinian personnel in charge of the affairs of East Jerusalem as well as young volunteers are caught helping people in this crisis, they pay heavily for that aid. As we say in Arabic— لا برحمك ولا بخلي رحمة ربنا تنزل عليك —“neither am I merciful towards you, nor will I allow the mercy of God to fall upon you.” Yet we know God is a merciful God and He will in His own way protect us. And that is why we hold onto hope; the hope of the resurrection every time we watch our people being denied their basic human rights, and more so, their right to live freely in their own city. Without our faith and hope as well as our resilience—“Sumud”—we could not have survived all those long years under occupation.

Thanks to technology, we have been attending services and have been connecting with our churches on line during this Holy Week, just as we are now sharing with you our hope of the resurrection. The whole world has been toppled upside down due to a small virus that found its way across the world, irrespective of borders or security walls; needing neither visas, nor travel permits, and challenging all the technology as well as the powers who reign in our times.

So we seize this opportunity on Holy Saturday to pray with all the people of the world, and our special prayers at this time are for the sick people, the doctors, nurses and all health workers who are on the front line. We also pray for the families who lost dear ones in this pandemic. And we pray for all the prisoners who are locked up in Israeli jails and other jails all over the world. And when this nightmare is behind us we pray and hope that we will have learned a good lesson to be more compassionate not only to our neighbors and world citizens, but to our environment that is already rebelling in its own way to our style of life.

And last but not least, we pray that world leaders will reset their priorities and silence the guns to spare humanity further suffering, so that the hope of the resurrection will supersede all the suffering caused by wars, sanctions and greed for power.

As I send you greetings and hope for Justice and Peace from the Land of the resurrection, let me remind all of us of the words of the hymnal: “This is my Father’s world. O, let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet”. Amen