The heads of the historic Christian churches in Jerusalem have stressed the need for courage, reconciliation and perseverance in the face of violence and division in today's world - not least in their own region.
"We encourage your prayers for us and all your Christian brothers and sisters, the 'living stones' of all the Christian traditions, here in the Land of the Holy One. We ask you to pray for us in our struggle for justice, peace and reconciliation," they write.
The church leaders emphasise "the power of God in Christ to confront [the] 'principalities and powers' [of this world] to promote faith, mutual respect, compassion and courage to speak the truth to benefit all."
Tomorrow, in a radio broadcast of BBC Radio 4, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams will lament the fact that Western leaders - he cites former UK premier Tony Blair and former US president George Bush, who launched the 2003 Iraq war - often forget that the origins of Christianity are not in the West, but in the East.
This is also overlooked by majorities in the Middle East and elsewhere.
This week, Premier Christian Radio and the Christian think-tank Ekklesia have teamed up to present five daily PCR radio broadcasts - also offered as podcasts with text on Ekklesia (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/11703) - given by Dr Harry Hagopian, an Armenian Orthodox Christian who is an ecumenical, legal and political consultant and a former executive secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches.
Dr Hagopian's talk for 5 April 2010, the day after Easter Sunday, expresses in personal terms the historic and present-day significance of the continuing, highly vulnerable, Christian presence in the land of Jesus' birth, death, life and resurrection.
The broadcasts will be aggregated here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/tags/4840
The message of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem reads as follows:
We, the Heads of the Churches in the Land of the Holy One, share with you the Good News of the life of our local Christian Church as one Body in Christ who live the resurrection faith every day.
Our message to you, whether near or far, is one of hope, encouragement and perseverance. We know the struggles so many Christians face, both here in this land and elsewhere in the world. We know the power of despair. We know the power of evil. We know the power of the "principalities and powers" of this world which promote agendas of division and oppression to bring harm to God's people throughout God's creation. We, with you, know the power of sin and death.
We also know the power of the Resurrection. We know the power of God to bring hope out of despair. We know the power of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, to use forgiveness and love to conquer evil. We know the power of God in Christ to confront those same "principalities and powers" to promote faith, mutual respect, compassion and courage to speak the truth to benefit all of God's people. We know the power of the forgiveness of sins to redeem relationships in families and among the family of nations. We know the power of the gift of eternal life for all who believe.
Christians, in all generations, face many challenges. Our current generation is no different than those who have gone before us. We, with you, have great responsibilities and many obstacles. The Christian Church faces struggles here in this land and yet we continue to be full of hope that we are at one and the same time the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection. Our faith is not in the power of death, but in the power of the sacrificial life of Christ.
We encourage your prayers for us and all your Christian brothers and sisters, the "living stones" of all the Christian traditions, here in the Land of the Holy One. We ask you to pray for us in our struggle for justice, peace and reconciliation, so that when Jesus returns he will not again weep for Jerusalem but share in our joy of unity, respect and love for all people in the Holy Land . Be assured, at the same time, of our prayers for you.
May the one and living God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit bless, preserve and keep you, now and always. Amen.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed. Alleluia!
Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch
Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch
Patriarch Torkom I Manoogian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarch
Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch
Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch
Archbishop Bishop Jules Zerey, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarch
Archbishop Abouna Matthias, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch
Archbishop Paul Sayyah, Maronite Patriarchal Exarch
Bishop Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem
Bishop Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch
Fr Rafael Minassian, The Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch