From the Presidents of Churches Together in England
Palm Sunday, 1 April 2007
To our dearly beloved brothers and sisters
the Patriarchs and Heads of Church in Jerusalem
and the faithful of the Holy Land
"Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our festal day." (Psalm 81:3)
The tremendous welcome we received in Jerusalem and Bethlehem at Christmas strengthens our desire to express now, as we enter into this the holiest week of our calendar, our deep appreciation of the Christian witness you bear in the land of our Lord and Saviour's birth, death and resurrection. As we have made our pilgrimage of prayer through Lent with works of love and self-discipline we have, time and again, called to mind the many sacrifices you are called to make throughout the year.
Now we recall Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as he prepared to keep "the fourteenth day as a day of remembrance…throughout your generations…as a perpetual ordinance." (Exodus 12). Then, as now, for Jews throughout the world the Passover, that night of watching, is filled with memories of exile, slavery, the fidelity of God, the infidelity of his people, and with longing for Shalom. In these same days, those who have been enabled by the Spirit to acclaim Jesus as Lord remember that night on which he said, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." (Luke 22:14) We remember everything that came to pass until Jesus was laid in a tomb near Golgotha "since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the Sabbath, especially because that Sabbath was a day of great solemnity." (John 19:31) But on the third day he stood among them and said: Shalom, Peace be with you. At this Passover, this Holy Week and Eastertide we do not see Jerusalem enjoying that peace for which the psalmist teaches us always to pray.
Instead there is, day by day, news of the loss of innocent lives and of assaults on the dignity, security and economic well-being of so many of those of all faiths who live in the land we call holy. Leaders in the region and beyond seem incapable of responding to the desire of the overwhelming majority of their citizens and to commit themselves, by deed as well as word, to the costly search for that justice for all whose fruit is peace and reconciliation. We welcome the recent increase in international efforts to support this search and shall urge that it be sustained and fully resourced.
We shall continue to encourage the faithful of our communities to show solidarity with you, our brothers and sisters, through pilgrimages, exchanges and support for your ministries.
As hearts across the world are drawn to Jerusalem, we affirm the bonds that exist between our churches. Celebrating the great liturgies of Holy Week we commit ourselves anew, in Christ, to travel with you in faith and love. United in his sufferings, we share his risen life. We accept the mandate of the risen Lord that "repentance for forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47) And in the forgiveness of sin is reconciliation and peace.
The Presidents of Churches Together in England
The Most Revd & Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams
HE Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor
The Revd David Coffey
HG Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian
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