Patriarch Gregorios at the Lambeth Conference

“An update on the principal issues that concern the Church in the Holy Land and specifically the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem, some reflections on the phenomenon of Christian Zionism, and inter faith dimensions. Discussion about how the rest of the Anglican Communion can work alongside the Diocese of Jerusalem in their work for reconciliation and justice in the Holy Land.”


23 July 2008 - Thanks to His Grace for his kind invitation to attend this conference: it is a great joy to be here. My presence is a symbol of a spiritual communion of our Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchal Church with the beloved Anglican sister Church.

I would like to express my great appreciation for the work done by the Anglican Church in Jerusalem. I had personal experience of brotherly friendship with the Anglican bishops in Jerusalem from 1974 to 2000, the period of my service as Patriarchal Vicar there.

I would like to emphasise that the most important factor in preserving the Christian presence in the Middle East is the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. European Churches and especially the Anglican Church have a special role in that regard. We Christians of the Middle East expect these Churches to exercise their influence on their own governments to help Israelis and Palestinians progress further towards a just and lasting peace. Let us not forget the responsibility of the British government towards the realization of a Palestinian state, as a British government once played a decisive role in creating a homeland for Jewish people. The Anglican Communion could support the Anglican diocese and all other Churches in the Holy Land in working for justice and reconciliation.

I would like to say a word about the phenomenon of so-called Christian Zionism, although that phrase seems incongruous to me, as Zionism is a secular ideology in the context of the life of the Jewish people. “Christian,” on the other hand, has a connotation of the vision of Christ towards the whole world. However, Christian Zionism seeks to limit the second coming of the Lord to the framework of a secular political and social event: the return of Jews to Israel. It is a distortion of Christian understanding of the real role of Israel. That is why all Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have repeatedly rejected the presence of the so-called International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

An understanding more in keeping with Christian tradition would be to link the return of the Lord to his economy, that the Gospel be preached as a sign of salvation of the whole world, as Simeon sang, when he encountered the Lord in the Temple: “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke2:30-32) In the same way, Saint Paul wrote to the Romans (Romans 11:15-16),” For if the casting away of them (Jews) be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?”
 
His Beatitude, Gregarios III, is the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem. He attended the Conference from 22-24 July, participating in the Walk to highlight poverty and attending the receptions on 24 July at Lambeth Palace, where he was able to talk with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and at Buckingham Palace. He also discussed issues affecting Christians in the Middle East, especially the Holy Land, with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. Prime Minister Brown has spoken recently on related matters in a way which His Beatitude found encouraging.
 
Story contributed by Valerie Chamberlain.

Teachings of Christ

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)

Encounter

Rejoice, O Mother of God, Virgin full of grace. * From you has risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * shining upon those who are in darkness. * Rejoice also, you righteous Elder; * for you received in your arms the Deliverer of our souls, * Who has given us resurrection. (Troparion, Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O Christ God, through Your birth You sanctified the Virgin's womb; * and blessed, as it was proper, the hands of Simeon. * Now, having come, you saved us. * Give peace to Your commonwealth in times of war * and strengthen our civil authorities, whom You have loved, O You who alone loves mankind. (Kontakion, Tone 1)

(The Feast of the Encounter is February 2nd - the 40th Day of Christmas)

Random Proverb

"The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin." (Proverbs 10:10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things, unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye amid the other disciples, saying:"If, then, any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new" (2 Cor. 5:17). 

St. Gregory the Great