Holy Week in Middle East

Paschal Pilgrims in Old City of Jerusalem

By Christine Darg,

Jerusalem Channel

Incense, “holy fire,” marching bagpipe bands, Russian Orthodox chanting, pilgrims from the nations honouring the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the Pascal Lamb.

Although the Cross and Atonement were little recognized for what they were when they actually happened nearly 2,000 years ago, now all nations celebrate as if we have been eyewitnesses of these cosmic events!

Events have been moving here peacefully with the tragic exception of the stabbing and murder of a British Christian student on Good Friday. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem issued the following statement:

The Hebrew University and the Rothberg International School express our deep sorrow over the murder of a ​​British student, Hannah Bladon, in today’s attack. We extend our deepest condolences to her family and we share in their sorrow.

The university condemns such acts of terror that harm innocent people​, and especially a student​ who came to Jerusalem to study and ​widen her academic horizons.

The university administration and staff will provide all necessary support to students, faculty members and their families in Israel and around the world.

Hannah Bladon came to the Hebrew University as part of a student exchange from the University of Birmingham. Hannah began her studies here at the end of January 2017 and was supposed to continue her studies until the end of the current semester.

May her memory be blessed.

Meanwhile, in Egypt prospects for a peaceful celebration of Resurrection Sunday have been severely dampened.

After two Palm Sunday bomb attacks 9 April on worshippers at Coptic Orthodox churches, the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of Minya has announced it will celebrate the Lord’s resurrection without festive events.

The observance in the Minya Coptic Orthodox archdiocese will be limited to liturgical services “without any festive manifestations” in mourning for the nearly 45 Coptic Orthodox faithful who were killed in the bombings, the AP reported.

Two Coptic Orthodox churches were the targets of the Islamic State Palm Sunday massacres. The attack on St. George’s in Tanta, nearly 60 miles north of Cairo, killed 28. Shortly after, another bomb went off outside St. Mark’s cathedral in Alexandria, killing 17.

The attacks pre-empted Pope Francis plans to visit Egypt to promote peace and dialogue between Christians and Muslims. 

Following the attacks, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency.

Meanwhile in Iraq: Our son David Darg is on a mission for Operation Blessing International and took this moving photo of Iraqi Christians clambering for the honor to carry an effigy of the Lord’s crucified and coffined body. They would carry it for a short distance then swap with someone eagerly waiting for a turn to take part in this symbolic moment. Many wept as they reached out to touch the flower-clad coffin as it passed. The mood was somber in the Church. These Iraqis lost everything when ISIS drove them from their homes, everything except their faith, and it shows in their reverence.

Photo by David Darg of Iraqi Christians Honoring the Death of Jesus on Holy Saturday

The Jerusalem Channel deplores all attacks on the Christian and Jewish communities of the Middle East and continues to declare that the gates of Hell will never prevail against the church.

“Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’”

Revelation 5: 13