In the first century during the period of the Roman occupation of Palestine, John's gospel tells us that there was a wedding celebration at Cana, to which Jesus, Mary and the disciples had been invited. It is to the traditional site of Cana that thousands of couples have come over the years to renew their marriage vows. In the twenty-first century during the Israeli occupation of Palestine, wedding invitations went out from Nazareth inviting family and friends to come to the wedding feast, held at the Abu Maher Hall, to celebrate the wedding of Rana and Rami. Even though these are difficult times, as they were during the Roman occupation of Palestine, yesterday I took a taxi over to where a van with Jerusalem license plates awaited the Jerusalem wedding guests. There I joined Palestinian friends and internationals for the drive west to the coast, then north along the coast of the Mediterranean, and finally to turn back east to head over to Nazareth. It was a long, round-about journey, but it was the way to avoid all Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank. As we headed inland to Nazareth, one of the Palestinian men started singing traditional wedding songs; the spirit of the wedding feast filled the van: fresh roses and song. The anticipation of the celebration was tangible. And the wedding celebration was well worth the anticipation and the long drive. To see two individuals so in love with each other, to experience the joy of the parents, the rest of the family and the shared happiness of friends, who numbered about four hundred, and to enjoy the music, song, dance and banquet, were to realize the power of the human spirit to rise above the fear, the mistrust and oppression that grips this land. That thought was brought home to me even more powerfully when I realized that present in the banquet room with us was a member of the Palestinian Parliament and a member of the Israeli Knesset. A young couple had invited them to share in their joy and they had set aside their fears and made the journey to Nazareth in order to celebrate the primacy of love in all our lives.
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