Al Masih Qam! Hakan Qam! We greet you and your loved ones with this great proclamation, as we have for the last 46 years. Yet, this song has been sung by our ancestors for the last two thousand years.
Our message to you this year is to invite you to enter Holy Week as reflected by the worship of our Holy Church and written in the pages of the Gospel. Holy Week can only become holy if we participate in the Holiness of Christ. If our faith means anything, we need to become what the Disciples of Christ became; servants to one another. The question is, would we wash each other’s feet?
Let us become like Simon of Cyrene, who was asked to carry the Cross of Christ; “Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.” (Luke 23:26) And all of us who are sinners will cry with the thief who was also on the Cross, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)
Let us do what Joseph of Arimathea did when he brought the Body of Christ from the Cross, wrapped Him in linen and placed Him in a tomb. (Mark 15:46) And can we dare to walk to the Tomb on Sunday morning with Mary, the mother of James and John, and Salome and Joanna who were privileged to hear the angel say, “You are seeking Jesus of Nazareth. He is not here. He is Risen. Go and tell Peter, the one who denied Him, that He loved him.” (Mark 6:6-7)
As we send you this greeting, our people are facing persecution, murder and homelessness. This darkness remains in the hearts and minds of those fighting this rage against Christians and non-Christians in our Motherland, where the message of peace and love was sent down from heaven. Be strong, be of good cheer; the voice of our Lord is with us, “I have overcome the world. I am with you until the end of time.” (John 16:33) The Resurrection of our Lord, for all, is to be forgiven, to be renewed and to be strong in hope, even in these difficult days.
We invite you to join us for Holy Week Services every night beginning at 7pm, Thursday at 10am for the Vesperal Liturgy for the Last Supper, Friday morning at 11 for the Vespers of the Descent from the Cross, on Saturday at 10am for St. Basil the Great Liturgy, Easter Liturgy Saturday evening beginning at 10:30pm and the Agape Service on Easter Sunday beginning at 1:30pm.
On behalf of Fr. Jim and Audrey King, the Deacons, the Parish Council; Salim Sessine, Chairman, Ladies Society; Joanne Kharsa, President, and all church organizations, we wish you a Blessed Holy Pascha.
Yours in the Risen Lord,
Fr. George and Nouhad Shalhoub and family