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

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (Troparion, Tone 4)

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

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." (Proverbs 11:2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

It was said about John the Little that one day he said to his older brother: "I want to be free from care and not to work but to worship God without interruption." And he took his robe off, and went into the desert. After staying there one week, he returned to his brother. And when he knocked at the door, his brother asked without opening it: "Who is it?" He replied: "It's John, your brother." The brother said: "John has become an angel and is not among people anymore." Then he begged and said: "It's me!" But his brother did not open the door and left him there in distress until the next morning. And he finally opened the door and said: "If you are a human being, you have to work again in order to live." Then John repented, saying: "Forgive me, brother, for I was wrong."

Sayings of the Desert Fathers