“Sadness Transformed into Easter Hope”
They stood still, looking sad. Luke 24.17
As we have journeyed these 40 days, these Lenten meditations have been full of the sorrows and suffering of Palestinians. Bishop Younan, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church or Jordan and the Holy Land writes of suffering and of the hope. Below is an excerpt. Click here to read the entire letter….
….The resurrection news is that Jesus continues to come into our midst, walks with us, and accompanies us along our road to Emmaus. We often do not recognize the risen Jesus in the stranger who has become our companion. Jesus is there in the ones accompanying us, the young and the old, men and women, people of all nations and ethnicities, people who speak languages so
different from our own. Jesus is there in the other—the one walking with us along the road, the one listening to our stories, the one empathizing with our plight, the one lifting up our eyes to see beyond the present moment….
The good news is that Jesus continues to give us a reason to hope. “We had hoped,” we often say as if the reason for our hopes has died, as if our hopes had been nothing but a fleeting fancy, as if our hopes were blown away with the dust of the ground by the strong April winds. “We had hoped,” we say in despair, and Jesus reminds us that ours is a God of everlasting hope. Jesus directs us to the unfailing promises of God, to read the Scriptures until our hearts burn with excitement and longing, to focus on Jesus’ own teaching that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer, and to rise again, and that he lives in Jerusalem, in the whole Middle East, and to the ends of the earth.
We live in hope, no matter what our circumstances, no matter what the rumors, no matter what the media says to the contrary. We live in hope, because Jesus is alive and with us until the end of the age. We Arab Christians, who received this message of the resurrection so many years ago, now keep the hope alive from generation to generation in order to continue to transform hate and division into a living hope that we might have life, and have it abundantly. And as long as this Middle East Church continues its faithful witness, the world will have a tangible sign of the truth of the resurrection.
The resurrection revives in us the hope that emanates from the cross and the empty tomb. Not a triumphal hope, but a hope that works against the odds. If the resurrection offers us the least expected surprise, so our hope opens the window to a future of surprises full of love and dignity. This is why we continue to affirm our commitment to the two-state solution with a shared Jerusalem for Jews, Muslims, and Christians, for Israelis and Palestinians.
The good news is that Jesus continues to feed us with bread for the journey so that our eyes are opened to the needs of the world and our souls are strengthened to return to Jerusalem. We are no longer standing still, immobilized by our grief and our fears, but hastening on our journey, running with the wind at our backs. We are no longer looking sad, but filled with joy, our mourning songs turned to dancing. The good news is that Jesus has called us to be his witnesses, to proclaim with confidence that Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed.
This is the reason that the Church has a mission today. It has the calling of the resurrection. We are to run back from Emmaus to Jerusalem nourished by the Eucharist and full of hope to join with the whole community of believers. We are to run back to Jerusalem to strengthen those who are sad, who feel confusion, who are uncertain. We are to run back to Jerusalem to remind our sisters and brothers that, the more the darkness of Good Friday seems to hover still over the Middle East, the more we are convinced of the strength of resurrection. We are to continue to run back to Jerusalem to proclaim that Christ is alive in our world today, despite all the odds. He is risen indeed.
Al Masih Qam! Haqan Qam!
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!