Jerusalem: ceremony of the Holy Fire

 The entire Christian community in Jerusalem gathered on Saturday to witness 'the Miracle of the Holy Fire' at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It was an exciting day with representatives of churches from all over the Holy Land coming to receive the flame and carry it back in small lanterns to their churches for the Easter Vigil Mass. Palestinians are not allowed to enter Jerusalem without a special permit, so this year many Christians went to the trouble of getting permits in order to take part in the celebration. Unfortunately quite a few got stuck at checkpoints. My son Canaan was very careful to receive the Holy Fire by lighting his candle and keeping it in a lantern until we reached our small village of Taybeh. A wonderful parade was held to celebrate the Holy Fire entering our village. The priests of all three churches, Fr Daoud, Fr Raed and Fr Jack led the faithful with the choir chanting to meet our cousins Ibrahim and Philip who traditionally take the Light to Ramallah, from where it is passed to all the Christian communities that cannot reach the Holy City, including Aboud, Birzeit, Jifna and Ein Arik. This is one of the celebrations in the Holy Land. It has been slightly dampened down lately For the last three years the boy scouts have not carried on the tradition of receiving the Holy Fire to the beat of the drums. However, given the trials we are living under, it was all the more refreshing for the Christian community to rejoice in receiving the Holy Fire, celebrating that for us, all hope lies in Christ our Saviour. We celebrated the oldest unbroken Christian ceremony that exists in the world.

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