At Sunday’s service, the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem officiated, assisted by the Dean of the Cathedral, the Very. Rev. Hosam Naoum (who had preached at St. Mark’s three years ago and in discussion afterwards spoke about the effect of Israeli residency and travel restrictions on his own family).
We were welcomed by Dean Naoum, the first Palestinian Dean of the Cathedral, who sent special greetings to our rector, Paul, and all at St. Mark’s. He has special appreciation for his time with us while studying for his master’s degree at the Virginia Theological Seminary.
We enjoyed the mingling of Arabic and English in the prayers and hymns. With the help of an insert in the service program booklet, we made a bold attempt to sing both the “Sanctus” and the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic.
It being St. Michael’s Day, Dean Naoum delivered his sermon (in Arabic and then an abbreviated English version) on angels in glorifying God, serving Christ, and assisting humans. He cited St. Augustine’s vision of an earthly and a heavenly city. The city of Jerusalem (and the entire Holy Land) certainly need angels to build bridges of reconciliation. Fortunately, we are meeting courageous Palestinians and Israelis who are doing just that…with the help of angels seen and unseen.
This excerpt from a beautiful prayer by Bishop Dawani is found on the first page of the service program: “Pilgrims here do not bring decisions with them. They come here to seek prayerfully the decisions that God wants them to make. And God will always surprise us. God has not finished with us or with our Church yet. God the Holy Spirit will lead us into our truth, and those who come here as a pilgrims must be open to the Spirit’s leading, open to God’s surprising revelation to us.”