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With Prayers and Greetings from the Holy Land

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

Today is such a big day in Greece (my birthplace) that I must wish all of my Greek friends a Happy Greek Independence Day and its an even bigger day for Orthodoxy to wish everyone a blessed Holy Annunciation celebration. For our many friends across the world who are celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord, please accept our sincere good wishes for a Happy Easter this Sunday. All Christian communities outside of Jerusalem and Bethlehem are celebrating Easter a month later (in accordance with social agreement) on the old ancient calendar of the Eastern Orthodox Church. But so difficult to send nice greetings seeing the tragedy of innocent people killed in Belgium and the continued evil all around us and across the globe. Lord have mercy!

We are in deep need of the Light of Christ. I live in a land where every day we can say, Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! It is all of the Holy Land, all of historic Palestine that was made holy by Christ Himself walking on this earth for our salvation. But it is daily not just during Holy Great Lent that we must work so hard to re-focus on the Light, the Life, the Truth and witness for Christ's love and peace as we also witness the alarming wave of violence. It is a challenge to remember the "Good News" for humanity was delivered here.

It is also extremely difficult to keep politics out of my messages. Forgive me, I must tell you that this last Sunday Israeli settlers burned another home outside Nablus where last July a whole family was killed when their home was torched. The only survivor, a little boy was finally released from the hospital this month, with no mom, no dad and no little brother.

Yesterday, an Israeli soldier executed an unarmed motionless Palestinian youth laying on the ground in Hebron. The soldier disturbingly fired into the head of the unarmed youth killing him instantly. These are daily happenings in result of military occupation that I am not sure people hear about.

My heart has been broken for the tragedy in Syria where every day people run away to save their lives, now in the millions. I have not been myself since my last visit to Greece in the fall and seeing thousands of people in the street in Victoria Square in Athens. It's one thing to hear about them in the news but totally devastating to see with your own eyes this humanitarian catastrophe. What bothered me the most was as I was out eating, drinking, having fun on my way to visit my mother, I had no solution for their displacement. I am challenged to be a Christian. What am I doing to practice Christ's words about feeding others or clothing them? The refugee problem has become an international crisis because these people were at one time like you and me and now no one wants them in their country.

In the darkness of all times, I am reminded of the essence of my Christian faith to see the source of hope in Christ Himself. My family in Taybeh with their resilience have taught me to see hope in a hopeless situation and by being who they are, a family having more than 600 years roots in Taybeh, to see the light in the darkness that seems not to cover only the occupied areas of Palestine but the globe. Their hard work in making great products and doing good things under harsh conditions are a reflection of bringing life where death seem to have the upper hand.

Pray, pray, pray, is what I beg all my friends. Thank you for your prayers, support and solidarity.

Christ is in our Midst,