Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter: Sadness Transformed into Joyous Hope

Here is the Easter Message of Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.  Also video of Pastor Mitri Raheb in a blog post from a traveling Yale group.
Bishop Younan’s Easter Message of Resurrection: Sadness Transformed Into Joyous Hope

“They stood still, looking sad.” - Luke 24:17 

I was recently walking from the Jaffa Gate to my office through the streets of the old city of Jerusalem when I encountered a long-time shopkeeper acquaintance. He was the kind of person always full of energy, always talkative, always with a smile on his face. This day—as we were approaching Holy Week and Easter—he was quiet, just standing there, looking a bit sad. “What’s wrong,” I asked. “Nothing,” he answered. When I pressured him, he said, “Nothing is well in Jerusalem.” The rest of that day, I asked myself, “Why?”  

According to psychologists, sadness is a degree of frustration. Sadness grows out of confusion coming from a disappointing sequence of events. 

On that first Easter afternoon, those two Emmaus disciples stood there on the road, looking sad. They were sad because they were confused. They had heard the proclamation that Jesus was risen, but they were overwhelmed by other events, other factors that led them to question, to doubt, to feel frustrated so much that they could hardly move one foot in front of the other. They wanted nothing more than to sit down in the middle of the road and to cry. 

So why this sadness, this frustration, this confusion? 

First, it was a question of the mass media. In that day, this was the circulation of messages by word of mouth. The dominant message was that the body of the one crucified on Golgotha had gone missing. Now rumors were rampant. “The disciples had come in the night and stolen the body,” some had said. “It was the gardener,” said others. “It must have been the soldiers,” still others suggested. These followers of Jesus were grief stricken and could not think clearly, and now on top of that, their thoughts were pulled first this way and then that by the mass media of the day. 

We all know that the media often presents multiple images, sometimes conflicting, often creating doubt and confusion over what to believe. We all know that the mass media can play a big role in interpreting the message, even creating news from nothing, yes even twisting the truth. When such messages turn blatantly false, we call this incitement, causing people to act in ways we would never have expected. Why is it that our world seems built on such incitement in the realm of public relations? 

These disciples found themselves listening to the mass media of their day, rather than relying on the sure and certain word that Jesus had taught them. 

[Click the link to
Easter Message for the complete text.]


Yales's "Common Ground: Sacred Land?"

Students and others who took part in Yale University's recent Holy Land trip have been posting a blog throughout Lent.  Here is a link to one post,
Day 19 – Palestinian Christians: "The Living Stones"

I recommend looking through a number of the blog posts. This one in particular includes two video clips of Pastor Mitri Raheb speaking to the group.

"One of the most memorable persons we met was the Rev. Mitri Raheb, pastor of
Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and founder of the DIYAR  Consortium that includes several institutions that focus their services on education, the needs of women, youth, and the elderly in the Bethlehem area."

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