Easter 2005 Message from Jerusalem

Easter 2005

Al-Masih Qam Hakkan Qam!*

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

We share with you greetings of Easter joy from the place of Resurrection!

"I am the resurrection and the life," Jesus said. Through the life-giving grace of the new life in Christ we all live and move and have our being. God's mighty act is at once a victory over sin and death and a triumph over all that binds humankind. Yet the first century shouts of "Hosanna!, the urgent pleas to Jesus from those who lined the road into Jerusalem to free us now, are still echoed by the prayers of those who continue to suffer here. The pain of oppression is as real now as it ever was in this Holy Land. Our joy may give us confidence that we can always trust in God's ultimate sovereignty, but in the meantime the failings of ordinary men and women create the weight of injustice.

The renewed peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians have rekindled a spark of optimism that people might live in true peace in this land where so many have died, and so many more have lost land and hope and future. Yet there is little rejoicing.

The "Separation Wall" continues its way to completion around Bethlehem and its neighbors. It serves not only as a prison barricade for the Palestinians who live under its all-seeing eye, but also as a gargantuan obstacle to a just peace. The people of Jalame and Bardale and Jayyous watch as more and more of their land is taken. The people of Beit Hanina and Ramallah are cut off a little more each day from their neighbors. It is apparent that the promised freedom of movement for residents of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is circumscribed in reality by fences, roadblocks, and Israeli soldiers barely out of high school wielding automatic weapons. As has happened so often in the past, peace talks and negotiations divert the world's attention from the on-going building of new illegal Israeli settlements and the appropriation of Palestinian land and rights.

So how is it that we send greetings of Easter joy from a place where darkness seems to be all around us?

We can only answer that God's light shines the brightest in the overwhelming darkness of human sin and oppression. On the first Easter morning the women who loved Jesus walked to his tomb in the shadow of both the city wall and the Roman occupiers. They came only to offer a last measure of respect and mourning. They came in fear and in sorrow. They expected to find armed soldiers and opposition or, at the very least, a heavy stone blocking their way to the one they had loved. Yet they found not death, but life! Not despair, but joy! They came to anoint a body. They ran from the tomb to tell everyone they encountered that God had prevailed.

It is exactly that truth that lays the ground for our joy. And it is our trust in the bringer of joy - the Christ of Easter - that leads us to know that God is not defeated by mortal deeds. We rejoice in the fact that God has commissioned all of us to follow the women who ran from the empty tomb to spread the news of God's victory. We are strengthened by the hope that you will commit yourselves to speak and act against injustice in all its forms - and that you will join us in proclaiming the Good News that life is not found in oppression or human might&that life is not found in one's self-proclaimed superiority&that walls and tears do not bring peace. God has caused light to shine in our darkness, "&and the life was the light of all people." [John 1: 4b]

Al-Masih Qam Hakkan Qam!

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

(*traditional Arabic Greeting of local Christians shared during Eastertide)

Rev. Alex and Brenda Awad

General Board of Global Ministries

United Methodist Church

Douglas Dicks

Presbyterian Church (USA) Regional Liaison

Israel, Palestine and Jordan

Nancy Dinsmore

Development Officer

Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem

Holly & Allyn Dhynes

Quakers working in Jerusalem

Kathy Kamphoefner & Paul Pierce

Quaker Service-Jerusalem

Janet Lewis

General Board of Global Ministries

United Methodist Church

Rev. Sandra Olewine

United Methodist Church Liaison

General Board of Global Ministries

Rev. Russell O. Siler, pastor

English-speaking congregation

Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Jerusalem

Rev. Glenn Edward Witmer, B.A., M.Div., Th.M.

Israel Liaison - North American Mennonite Churches

Jerusalem

Andrew Willis

Missionary

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America