Maria (Kouremenou) Khoury is the author of Orthodox Christian children's books, including Christina Goes to the Holy Land, which walks readers through the footsteps of Christ. Maria and her husband, David Canaan Khoury, the former mayor of Taybeh and founder of Taybeh Beer, returned to Palestine following the Oslo Accords. The Khoury's current business ventures include the Taybeh Winery and Taybeh Golden Hotel, which welcomes pilgrims to stay overnight in Taybeh, the heart of Palestine.
We have just celebrated the Miracle of the Holy Fire in Taybeh in a most magnificent way at the outskirts of our village at approximately 5:30 pm local time on this Great and Holy Saturday, after waiting all afternoon when this great miracle occurred once again in Jerusalem.
“O Gladsome Light, of the Holy glory of the Immortal Father, heavenly Holy, blessed Jesus Christ!” (Holy Saturday Morning Prayers)
The local priests, Fr. Daoud, Fr. Jack and Fr. Aziz, of all three churches and Fr. Peter who came from Jerusalem with the choir chanting, and the Taybeh Scouts beating the drums marched again this year to meet our cousin Ibrahim with his son Philip, who went to the city of Ramallah, where the faithful brought the flame from Jerusalem for the Palestinian Christian s who cannot reach the Holy City due to lack of permits. Many residents of Taybeh were in the streets for the ecumenical procession, which was simply glorious although a bit cloudy with a sprinkle of rain.
The solemn and beautiful procession in our village ended at St. George Church, where Fr. Daoud placed the flame on the altar to await the faithful for the Resurrection service of Holy Pascha: “Come ye and receive light from the unwaning Light, and glorify Christ, Who arose from the dead.”
In the last few years during Great and Holy Saturday, I have delivered the same message from the Holy Land. But it has been a great spiritual joy to keep reminding friends about the miracle that appeared for the first time during the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Luke 24:4; Matthew 28:1-4) This magnificent miracle is at the core of our Christian presence in the Holy Land. The Miracle of the Holy Fire received today by His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, was broadcasted live on Palestine TV.
The brilliant ceremony is considered a miracle because there is no explanation for the way the Holy Fire appears from the Holy Life-Giving Tomb of Christ, actually coming down from Heaven. Many personal accounts have called the miracle “incredible” and similar to lightning. The Holy Fire at the moment is in flight to many surrounding countries that are less a three-hour flight from Jerusalem. The fire is flown by private transportation to countries including Cyprus, Greece, Russia, and Romania.
The Christian community in the Holy Land witnessed the True Light of Christ by receiving the Holy Fire today so that all who are not living in the land of Christ’s Holy Resurrection can believe that Christ is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).
It is so difficult this year to wish everyone a blessed and glorious holy Pascha knowing that in Syria the new rule from fanatics is that it is forbidden to wear or display the cross in public. It is forbidden to ring the church bells in public. Also, Christians are asked to pay a tax or convert to Islam; how sad that the new Middle East has really gone back one thousand years in history. May our Risen Lord who has had victory over death have mercy on those suffering in different places of the world! May the peace of Christ and the knowledge that our Lord offers everlasting life continue to bring us joy and give us hope. Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Please accept my humble wishes for a glorious Holy Pascha from the Land of Christ’s Holy Resurrection!