So Easter is upon us. But the darkness of Good Friday has to be endured before the time of waiting and the anticipation of resurrection. This is always the Christian story. The ashes and the glory go together - a thought which makes looking back on where we have come from this Lenten season an important part of the continuing journey forward.
The Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land and the Justice and Peace Committee issued a statement about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. It is a highly significant document in the light of recent media attention to these issues, and repeated statements from Baroness Warsi and others. There are serious issues at stake here, but it is important that they are understood properly and in context so that the appropriate solidarity for all oppressed groups can be expressed.
The barbarity of the response to protest by the Syrian regime - bullets, shabihas and tanks that soon graduated to chemical weapons and TNT barrels - also weaponised an equally radical bunch of people who carry with them the cloak of religiosity although they do not care a jot about the future governance of Syria, says regional analyst Dr Harry Hagopian. So where do we go from here?
In the first Middle East Analysis podcast of 2014, regular studio guest Dr Harry Hagopian, a regional expert and Ekklesia associate, looks at the upcoming Geneva 2 meeting about the on-going crisis in Syria, Egypt's constitutional referendum, and other Middle East and North Africa related concerns.
In recognising the human endurance, perseverance, vision, humility, lack of bitterness and political ability that characterised Nelson Mandela, analyst and Ekklesia associate Dr Harry Hagopian looks at the response of Palestinians and others from the Middle East and North Africa region to his passing. There are uncomfortable truths to be faced in all this, he suggests.
What worries many powers today are Iranian encroaching attempts to enrich high-grade uranium. Has the deal that has just been done alleviated those fears, or merely been a piece of window dressing? Regional commentator and Ekklesia associate Dr Harry Hagopian examines the complexities, political dynamics and regional (global, indeed) implications of the Iran nuclear deal.