GA News: Archbishop Chacour urges Presbyterians to ‘get their hands dirty’ for peace

“I am a walking contradiction,” began Archbishop Elias Chacour in his sermon to those gathered for the ecumenical service of worship held Wednesday morning (June 25) as part of the General Assembly week.. As a Palestinian, Arab, Christian, Israeli, Chacour said,

he embodies the multi-faceted nature of the struggles within the Holy Land.

“Please have the courage to make things better,” he exhorted.  But he quickly noted that this did not mean being one-sided. “If taking our side as Palestinians would be interpreted as hate against the Jews then we do not need your friendship, because in so doing you become just one more enemy,” said Chacour. What is needed, he added, is one more common friend.

“Many times your church has had the courage of saying truth to the mighty,” reminded Chacour.  The Sermon on the Mount is not a list of blessings or be happy attitudes, he argued, but an appeal to get up and go out and act. “Peace needs people who are involved—so go get your hands dirty if you are hungry and thirsty for justice.” 
“We Christians in the Holy Land try to be a voice of moderation rejecting all faces of violence,” continued the Archbishop.  “We are waiting for you in Galilee — come and see,” he invited.  He also expressed concern that the Christian presence in the Holy Land has been shrinking because of the difficulties of life and the concern over what place a non-Jew will have in a Jewish state. “What will the Christian story be without those to tell the story in the land?” he asked. Touching the marble in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is fine, but Chacour reminded the congregation that we worship a risen Christ who is no longer in the tomb.  “You can go and visit the antiquity, the stones,” preached Chacour, “but Christianity is not antiquity. Christ has disciples and without those disciples in the land he may become ignored.”
“I invite you to look for positive initiatives and new re-investment projects that can bring both Israelis and Palestinians together,” the Archbishop concluded.  “We want you to be involved.”