A Good Friday Devotional by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Holy Saturday remains my favorite holiday in Jerusalem. After the evening of Good Friday and the darkness of Christ’s crucifixion, Christians around the world celebrate in the coming of Easter Sunday that darkness is not the end of the story. For light will overcome the darkness.
This year Western Christians (Catholics, Anglicans, and Protestants) celebrate Easter one week apart from our Eastern Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters. But the spirit of which we celebrate is the light of Christ prevailing over the darkness of the world. This celebration is symbolized most profoundly in the ritual of Holy Fire and Holy Saturday before Easter Sunday in the sacred city of Jerusalem. Read more
A Good Friday Devotion by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Few would argue the realities in the Middle East are riddled with darkness. Consider the minority and Christian communities in Iraq continuing to suffer from poverty and displacement after the violence of Daesh (ISIS) and other militant groups destroyed their homes and killed so many of their loved ones. The people of Yemen continue to suffer under a crushing civil war that has manifested itself in the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. The occupation of the Palestinian people continues beyond fifty years of military control of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. Refugees from Syria reside in makeshift camps in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, as they consider what it might look like to ever rebuild their lives again and have hope for a future for their children and their children’s children. The stories of pain and suffering throughout the Arab world could go on and on. There are many places where the darkness seems to prevail. Read more
by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
All over the world this evening, churches throughout the east and the west will host services to celebrate Maundy Thursday. The Thursday of Holy Week reminds believers of the Last Supper Jesus had with the disciples, and more specifically, his teaching them about the power of what it means to be a servant.
Jesus knew what was to come. He had loved the disciples and the world while he lived amongst them and John 13:1 tells us he “loved them to the end.” Christ’s ultimate act of love would follow a few short days after the meal, but his lessons for those who followed him were not yet complete. Read more
It is interesting how Palm Sunday is often described as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. And yet, what was triumphant about this humble Jewish man riding down the Mount of Olives, across the Valley of Kidron, and into the Old City of Jerusalem? The people cried out adulations to him, but the praise of humankind was temporary and fleeting. For in the days hence, that very same crowd would turn their backs on Christ and instead release the convicted prisoner Barabas into freedom. How could Jesus ever be reconciled to his people after such betrayal?
Today the walk down the Mount of Olives is a glimpse of the multi-faceted diversity of cultures and Abrahamic faith traditions that call Jerusalem holy. It is also a microcosm of the contestations about land, historic ties to the Old City of Jerusalem, and the current political realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Read more
By Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Over the past several weeks, the news coming from Palestine and Israel continues to be more than discouraging. The United States removal of the world occupation from the United States Human Rights Report of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) just seemed to be the beginning. Then on March 21, the Trump Administration recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights once again demonstrating the administration’s recklessly one-sided approach to Middle East foreign policy. On March 25, a rocket fired from Gaza landed in Israel injuring seven people; Israel attacked Gaza with military strikes. As if that was not enough, the United Nations reminds us that in the year since the beginning of the Great March of Return (March 30, 2018), 195 Palestinians, including 41 children, were killed by Israeli forces during demonstrations, including weekly protests near the perimeter fence, protests against the naval blockade, and other activities. Over the course of the past year, 28,939 Palestinians were injured as a part of the Gaza protests.
In the midst of escalating violence and such horrific tragedies, what does it mean to have Persistent Hope? Read more
By Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Miriam Shaar, a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, witnessed the discouragement in her community first hand. Living in Bourj el Barajneh, a refugee camp of more than fifty thousand Palestinian refugees outside of Beirut, Shaar knew the harsh realities of not having the financial means to provide for the basic necessities of life. The more than two million refugees in Lebanon experience significant challenges in their daily life. Refugees, particularly women, cannot find work. They often feel like they do not have hope for a future. Read more
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Read more
Psalm 80: 3, 6-7
Restore us, O God;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved. . . .
You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors
and our enemies mock us.
Restore us, God Almighty;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors. Read more
“Yes, indeed—God is my salvation. I trust, I won’t be afraid. God—yes God!—is my strength and song, best of all, my salvation!” Joyfully you’ll pull up buckets of water from the wells of salvation. And as you do it, you’ll say, “Give thanks to God. Call out his name. Ask him anything! Shout to the nations, tell them what he’s done, spread the news of his great reputation! “Sing praise-songs to God. He’s done it all! Let the whole earth know what he’s done!”
Isaiah 12:2-5 (MSG)
Take courage for there is joy in this life!
For many Christians observing the third week of Advent, they will read the words of the prophet Isaiah. These words call them to give thanks and praise to the Lord God, with a joy that springs forth from God’s “wells of salvation.” This good news of salvation became flesh with the birth of Jesus, entering into the lived reality of humanity on earth. Today, this call to joy is in the very practical act of collecting water. “Joyfully you’ll pull up buckets of water from the wells of salvation.” These words remind us that it is the fundamentals of being human that truly matter and are quite beautifully, enough. Read more
“[During] the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” Luke 3.2-6
During the season of Advent, Christians across the world wait with eager expectation for the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. While we celebrate Jesus’ arrival and the ways in which he modeled how we are to live, it is no doubt troubling to many how far away we are from the peace Jesus preached. From the rise of white supremacy in the United States, to the continued conflicts in the Middle East, we seem to be moving in the opposite direction of Peace. For those of us committed to a just, lasting, and peaceful resolution to the conflict in Israel/Palestine, and throughout the Middle East; we might wonder if our efforts are in vain. Read more