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.
I am the light of the world. John 9:5
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
It is here in Jerusalem that we can proclaim this news every day because it is the very place of Christ’s Holy Resurrection. Especially this year, as I celebrated the Holy Pascha Midnight Resurrection Service at the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem inside the Holy Sepulchre, I forced myself to see Christ in each and every person.
Photo, above: Entering the Holy Sepulcher Church at midnight for Holy Pascha 2013. The original church was built by St. Constantine and St. Helen in approximately 325 AD. Currently it is shared by the Orthodox, Armenians, Latins, Syrians, Copts, and with an Ethiopian Christian monastery on the roof.
I actually saw more policemen and Israeli soldiers than ever in my life. What was difficult to understand while I was attempting to pray is why the police were beating up certain people or picking them out of the procession as we were following His Beatitude the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III to the holiest place on earth for Christians and the ultimate goal of all Christian pilgrims?
“I am telling you the truth: those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me have eternal life. They will not be judged, but have already passed from death to life. I am telling you the truth: the time is coming—the time has already come—when all the dead will hear his voice and come out of their graves: those who have done good will rise and live, and those who have done evil will rise and be condemned. (John 5:25-29)
Photo, above: Entering the Holy Sepulchre, we find the Anointing Stone which marks the location where our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was laid when He was being prepared for burial by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea. They “took down the body of Jesus and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” (John 19:40)
More than ever with the violence around us and in the international community, it is Christ’s Holy Resurrection that has the ultimate message for humanity: He alone is the way, the truth, and the Life. Many people simply do not know that the Palestinian Christians are in the front lines of the battle for peace, justice and truth. We walk the very stones that were present when so many Christians gave up their souls and became martyrs. For over two thousand years, the Truth of eternal life is proclaimed from the Holy Land where people suffer the most.
Jerusalem in particular and The Holy Life-Giving Tomb of Christ are a powerful reminder of the joy and light of the Holy Resurrection and the ultimate sacrificial gift of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Truly the Lord is Risen!
Photo, above: The Holy Life-Giving Tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ is to the left, while the Church of the Resurrection is to the right from the middle of the Rotunda, the circular area under the main dome of the Holy Sepulcher Church where thousands of people came to “…receive Light from the unwaning Light, and glorify Christ, Who arose from the dead.”