Sunday is our sabbath day and it was framed with worship in 2 areas of the Diocese of Jerusalem. Ramallah is a city on the West Bank where St Andrew's Anglican Church is located. The town is predominantly Muslim, and Christians are a minority. Palestinians are restricted in their movement about the land--they are allowed in Ramallah and yet are not allowed out without a pass. We entered this bustling city in time for 10:30 am Holy Eucharist which was bilingual with Arabic and English. We sang familiar hymns and said prayers we know, each in our own language--a little taste of Pentecost. We were treated with Abraham's hospitality during the service and at coffee hour. I met some Christians who shared what it was like to be a Christian living with mostly Muslims. On the way back from church we were stopped at the checkpoint going to Jerusalem while 2 armed Israeli soldiers got onto our bus to check passports. All was fine and yet it was not your ordinary trip home from church. Sadly it is the norm for people's in this land.
We had lunch and a brief break at the college before getting back on the bus heading for Ramleh--a mostly Jewish town where Emmanuel Anglican Church is located. The service is regularly at 7 pm because Sunday is the beginning of the work week. Father Samuel spoke with us for an hour's session about being a Christian minority in this mostly Jewish town. He shared the heartaches and joys of being an Palestinian Arab and not a terrorist but a Christ loving man with a family and call he cherishes deeply and a passion for helping the other, no matter who the other is. Today's gospel was the story of the Good Samaritan with focus on the question: who's is my neighbor? It is a question deep at the heart of our course of study. Once again the hospitality of these Christians living among Jews was a precious gift. We were strangers coming among them and being treated royally. For our class to worship with them was cause for celebration!
The context of these 2 churches is very different and yet they are each a people living with neighbors very different from themselves. They're finding a way to be who they are even in the face of being such extreme minority. My prayers will continue for them and for this land where Abraham's children cry out for peace and justice.