Remember Lebanon's heritage and trials
This text and podcast is the third of five reflective radio talks for Easter from Harry Hagopian, focusing on the presence, life and witness of the often-forgotten historic Christian communities across the Middle East. Today, attention turns to the beautiful country of Lebanon, a cradle of faith, yet buffeted by one crisis after another.
Listen to this Premier Christian Radio broadcast* here on the Ekklesia web site: www.ekklesia.co.uk/harryhagopian3.mp3
Read the full text:
Lebanon is special for me: a tiny country in the heart of the Middle East that has experienced far more than its fair share of trials and tribulations.
But this same Lebanon, made up of fun-loving and hospitable people, delicious food and beautiful landscapes, was also home to the largest local Christian presence in the Middle East following its independence from France in 1943.
In fact, until some two decades ago, Christians constituted half the population of the country - the other half being Shi’i, Sunni and Druze Muslims.
Yet today, even as the different communities comprising Lebanon celebrate the Easter joy - from Maronite Catholics with their patron saint and hermit, Mar Maroun, all the way to the tiny Armenian Presbyterians - the country is still being buffeted by one crisis after another.
Sadly, Christians are not only emigrating in large numbers, or becoming increasingly less involved in public life, they are also sorely divided amongst themselves.
We too witness such divisions, don’t we, when creed, dogma and ultimately self-glory and power replace the love and respect God asks of us? Or at moments when we Christians go about dismembering the Body of the Risen Christ, that same body we all share at the Communion table in our churches?
Maybe we should also think this week of the local Lebanese Christians, irrespective of their political affiliations or deep dissensions, as we pray that the Incarnate and Risen Lord look with love and compassion upon them too.
(c) Harry Hagopian is a former executive secretary for the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and now an ecumenical, legal and political consultant for the Armenian Orthodox Church, as well as an independent inter-faith adviser for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. He contributes regularly to Ekklesia.
* These talks are reproduced and podcasted by Ekklesia with the kind agreement of Premier Christian Radio (http://www.premier.org.uk/). Each one will be broadcast twice a day between 5-9 April 2010. Our thanks to Ian Turner and PCR for making them available.
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