The Role of Jerusalem for Christians
I received the following from Churches for Middle East Peace last week:
"For Christians, the city of Jerusalem has deep theological significance as the place Jesus often traveled to participate in traditional Jewish feasts, performed healings, and in the end was crucified, buried, and resurrected. Today, there are many sites that remember these events in Jesus' life. One of these is the pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the man we read about in the beginning of John 5. Today, many Christian pilgrims visit St. Anne's Church, believed to be the location of the pool of Bethesda as well as the birthplace of Mary, Jesus' mother.
Christians from the Middle East and around the world make pilgrimages to these sites, and many others in and around Jerusalem, and the Holy Land. These pilgrims seek to educate themselves about the roots of their faith, and to deepen their spiritual lives through these experiences.
Today, there are many Christians, representing a multitude of denominations who worship in churches in the Old City, around Jerusalem, and the West Bank. Late last week, Christian leaders in Jerusalem received word that the municipality intended to break a centuries long status quo agreement and begin to collect taxes on church properties not used as houses of worship. The leaders of these churches issues a statement saying, 'We declare that such a measure both undermines the sacred character of Jerusalem, and jeopardizes the church's ability to conduct its ministry in this land on behalf of its communities and the world-wide church.'"
Since President Trump unilaterally announced his plans to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, a number of long-standing agreements in that part of the world appear up for grabs.
"CMEP Executive Director Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon said, 'In the months since President Trump announced the acknowledgement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, we have seen significant pushback from Palestinians and the international community. As I feared, the decision has only made the possibility of resuming meaningful negotiations and the achievement of a viable solution more elusive; if not impossible. Moreover, there is less and less room for moderation. The push toward extremism on all sides has devastating effects upon Israelis, Palestinians, and the international community who are committed to peace.'"