Easter in Jerusalem: No access for Gaza’s Christians

easter in jerusalemThree days to go before Good Friday, Israel has not issued permits for Gaza Palestinian Christians to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter, Church authorities have said.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said church authorities had applied for around 600 permits for Gaza Palestinian worshipers to travel, but had not received any.

Gaza is under an ongoing Israeli blockade and people’s movements out of the Gaza Strip is tightly restricted by the Israeli military.

The Israeli military-run authority that operates in the occupied West Bank defended its policy to deny the applicants access to the city of Jerusalem in the West Bank, and said it would only issue permits to people aged at least 55.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

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This Easter, a Group of Muslims in Australia Will Attend Mass — as They Have for the Past 13 Years

christians-muslims-dialogues-in-pakistanThis Sunday, Catholic churches across Sydney, Australia will bear the usual signs of Easter: incense, fresh flowers, a lit Paschal candle — and a few rows of churchgoers wearing kufi and headscarves. Every year for the past 13 years, groups of Muslims have attended Easter Mass in the Sydney Archdiocese and Broken Bay Diocese.

It all started around 2001 when a group of Gülen Muslims who had immigrated to Sydney from Turkey sought to dismantle animosity in their new home. For the group, who practices love of the creation, sympathy for the fellow human, compassion, and altruism, one way of coping was to actively foster understanding among Christian faith groups. So, they called the Catholic Dialogue and Interfaith Office of Sydney and explained that people were pulling veils off of Muslim women, spitting at them, and attacking them. The Director of the Office, Sister Trish Madigan, O.P., sprung into action. A Dominican Sister of Eastern Australia and Solomon Islands, Sister Trish holds a master’s in Ecumenical Interfaith Studies with a focus on Islam from Trinity College and a doctorate in Arabic and Islamic studies from the University of Sydney.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SOJOURNERS MAGAZINE 

Easter Should Be A Time For Christians And Muslims To Bond

The religions share a deep heritage based in love, which can’t be confused with the actions of misguided, fire-breathing followers on both sides.

For the Sufi mystic and poet Jalaluddin Rumi, spring was more than spring: it was a reflection of all that was divine, in our lives and history.

In his poem, “Spring is Christ,” he writes of how a flower is more than a flower, a tree more than a tree and the wind more than just wind. He writes of a love so strong it permeates everything it comes into contact with. And he writes about Jesus and his mother, Mary: Jesus as the spring that brings plants into bloom after a lifeless winter, and Mary as the tree that gives life, refuge and shade.

 Surprisingly for many in the West today, Islamic mystical poetry is full of allusions to Jesus and Mary. The only religion besides Christianity that accepts Jesus as a prophet, Islam confirms his unique birth and the Qur’an refers to him as the “Messiah,” the “Messenger,” the “Prophet” and the “Word and Spirit of God.”
OMAR SANADIKI / REUTERS
A girl stands near candles inside Al-Saleeb church during Palm Sunday in Damascus, Syria on April 9, 2017.

It is a commonality that is often overlooked by fundamentalists on both sides who choose to focus on the points of divergence. And yet, at this moment, when so many seem to be rooting for a collision between the Christian West and Islamic East, there has never been a greater need for both sides to acknowledge their shared heritage.

FULL ARTICLE FROM HUFFINGTON POST 

For the first time, Christians and Muslims to celebrate the Annunciation together in Amman

2848191871522126126The event is set for this Wednesday with government, religious and civil authorities present. For the patriarchal vicar to Amman, this will be part of the “theological, religious, spiritual dialogue” that accompanies everyday life. “We want to show the common points between Christians and Muslims, concerning the event of the Annunciation, in which even Muslims believe,” he said.


AMMAN: This year, Jordan will hold its first interreligious celebration on the feast day of the Annunciation of Mary. On Wednesday, 28 March, government and civil authorities, Muslim religious leaders, Christian bishops and ordinary believers from both faiths will gather in a large hall in the capital to mark the occasion.

The event will serve to highlight “the importance of Mary in the Qur??n, and the value of the narrative of the Annunciation in the Gospel of Luke,” noted Mgr William H. Shomali, patriarchal vicar of the Latin Patriarchate in Amman.

In doing so, “We want to show the shared points between Christians and Muslims, concerning the event of the Annunciation, in which even Muslims believe.”

For the past 12 years, the feast day of the Annunciation on 25 March has been a national holiday in Lebanon, a day off for everyone and an important moment for dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MALAYSIA HERALD 

Jesus Was No Stranger to Persistent Hope

Hope-Slider

The following is an Easter meditation from Churches for Middle East Peace, an organization that promotes interfaith initiatives for peace in the Holy Land.  

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.”
Luke 24: 1-10

Early in the morning, a group of women, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and others, walked to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. I imagine them walking in silence, some of them with tears running down their cheeks, others in a daze. Their eyes are still adjusting to the morning light. One of them is carrying the spices they had prepared the night before, to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. As they approach the tomb, they see the stone rolled away. This, in and of itself, would be cause for alarm. Who had been there before them? They cautiously walk into the tomb and find it empty. What happens next would cause anyone to be terrified. Two men in dazzling clothes (AKA angels) stood beside them and began to speak to them. These heavenly beings remind the women what Jesus had told them about how he would rise again on the third day. Immediately after their conversation, the women return to the eleven disciples and tell them everything that had happened. Hallelujah! What terrific news!

Jesus was no stranger to persistent hope. Jesus taught these women, and his disciples, what it meant to persistently hope. To have hope is more than a wish. It involves knowledge of something true, that hasn’t happened yet. It’s not a premonition, or some special kind of revelation. It’s the hope we carry with us even when circumstances seem dire. It’s the hope that propels us forward in the face of uncertainty and fear. This is the kind of hope exhibited by the women that morning. It seemed as though everything was lost. Their Lord had been crucified. What would happen to them, his followers? Still, they faithfully went to the tomb to honor him by preparing his body for burial. Although none of them expected to find the tomb empty, I imagine them replaying Jesus’ words on the walk to the tomb. What did Jesus mean when he said he would rise again on the third day? Maybe it was this wondering which propelled them to go to the tomb that morning.

Palestinian and Israeli women are often the most overlooked, yet effective peacemakers.

FULL ARTICLE FROM  CHURCHES FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE 

Easter in Islam: Christ is risen and will return

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Easter is celebrated to varying degrees in the Islamic world, ranging from outright illegal in Saudi Arabia to being openly celebrated in some of the Gulf States and the Far East. A natural question is, just where does Islam diverge from Christianity on the matter of Jesus’ AS1 crucifixion and resurrection? The Qur’an says,

[4:157] That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not

 [4:158] Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise

 [4:159] And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them

Here, the Qur’an states clearly that Jesus AS was not killed nor crucified, but was indeed raised to Heaven. Therefore, Easter has no direct analogue in Islam since it is the celebration of his resurrection. However, as the third verse above explains, Jesus will also play a role on Judgement Day.

There is of course some historical evidence that supports the crucifixion as a recorded event, including from some Roman sources. And the verse in the Qur’an itself says quite expplicitly that “so it was made to appear to them”. So it seems plausible that someone was crucified, unless it was all a divine illusion. One of the mainstream views among muslim theologians is that another was crucified in Jesus’ AS place; either as punishment (likely Judas) or as a willing martyr (often cited as Simon). There are also various minority views, in which Jesus AS did die or achieved separation of spirit from his body. The Wikipedia article “Islamic views of Jesus’ death” provides a comprehensive overview of the various interpretations.

FULL ARTICLE FROM BELIEF.NET

Nigerian Muslims Use Occasion of Easter to Urge Cooperation with Christians

The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has urged both Christians and Muslims in the country to collaborate with each other in tackling the menace of corruption.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Secretary-General NSCIA, Dr Lateef Adegbite, made available to newsmen in Abeokuta, on Thursday, and appealed to Christians and Muslims to seize the occasion of the Easter season to reflect on the situation of the country and also cultivate the values and virtues extolled by their religions.

He advised the adherents of the two religions to join forces with the nation’s leadership to tackle the issue of corruption.

“Let us seize the occasion of this season to reflect on the situation of our country and resolve to effect changes that would ensure real development and meaningful progress in the land.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TRIBUNE (NIGERIA)