By the numbers… Christians in the Holy Land

Old City and New

0.6 per cent of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians live in the Middle East and North Africa; they make up 4 per cent of the region’s total population, down 20 per cent from a century ago.

93 per cent of the population of the Middle East and North Africa is Muslim; 1.6 per cent is Jewish.

80 per cent of Christians in Israel are Arab-born.

84 per cent of Christian Arabs live in northern Israel, including Haifa.

161,000 Christians, who are permanent residents of Israel, constitute 2.1 per cent of the entire population.

9.5 per cent reside in Jerusalem.

38.8 per cent of non-Christian Arabs live in the Tel Aviv district.

34.4 per cent of non-Christians reside in northern Israel and in Haifa.

22,400 Christians live in Nazareth.

11,900 Christians live in Jerusalem.

3,400 non-Arab Christians live in Haifa.

3,100 non-Arab Christians live in Tel Aviv.

2,900 non-Arab Christians live in Jerusalem.

10.3 per cent of Christians living in Israel are age 65 and older.

Source:  Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life; Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 2013

Why Jerusalem Sunday?

Anglican Journal

By Marites N. Sison on April, 04 2014


Jerusalem Sunday will honour the mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. 

On June 1, Canadian Anglicans will observe Jerusalem Sunday for the first time.

The new annual observance comes from General Synod’s 2013 resolution to set aside the seventh Sunday of Easter, commonly known as the Sunday after the Ascension, as a day to learn about the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. A special collection will also be requested for that diocese’s ministries in education, reconciliation, health care and hospitality.

“The Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of Jerusalem have been companions in mission for many years,” explained Andrea Mann, global relations director. “Jerusalem Sunday is intended to lift up this relationship and celebrate the ‘living stones’ of the diocese—Arab Christians and others serving in ministries of hospitality, education, health care and reconciliation in Jerusalem, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.”

Jerusalem Sunday is also important because “Jerusalem is a place of deep significance in the Christian story and in our Christian faith, historically and right up to today,” said Mann.

Many Canadian Anglicans visit Jerusalem; they listen about Jerusalem from Sunday to Sunday throughout the year, and others attend courses at the diocesan-run St. George’s College, Mann said. “There is already, and has been and will continue to be, a personal connection between Canadian Anglicans, between parishes, between dioceses and the [Diocese of] Jerusalem.”

But she noted that while the range and depth of connection are increasing, “we might as Canadian Anglicans visit Jerusalem, the Holy Land, on a tour and never encounter a Palestinian Christian, never visit the Diocese of Jerusalem knowingly…”

At the 2013 General Synod, the Canadian church also passed a resolution on peace and justice in Palestine and Israel, which commits Canadian Anglicans to educate themselves more deeply about the issue, to explore and challenge theories and beliefs such as Christian Zionism, anti-Semitism, theories denying the right of Israel to exist, Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiments.

Jerusalem Sunday observance offers a tangible expression of the Anglican church’s support for its companion relationship with the Diocese of Jerusalem, Mann added.

Let Us Celebrate Jerusalem Sunday!

Jerusalem church

- Anglican Journal -

Jerusalem Sunday on June 1, 2014, is a new annual church observance to celebrate companionship in God’s mission with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in Jerusalem, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.  The Diocese is a historic and active member of the Christian, ecumenical and interfaith community of the Middle East.  It is home to several thousand Arab Anglicans in thirty parishes and situated in one of the world’s holiest destinations for Christian, Jewish and Muslim pilgrims.

Regrettably, few religious tourists to the Holy Land today encounter Palestinian and other Arab Christians, or visit a parish church, school or hospital.  Jerusalem Sunday introduces us to the ‘living stones’ of the local Anglican church, to the ancestors of the first Christian communities indigenous to the region.  Jerusalem Sunday is an opportunity to meet Arab sisters and brothers in Christ in the Anglican Communion, and hear them talk about discipleship in the 21st century.

The ministries of the Diocese of Jerusalem bring hope, skills, health;  a peaceful future to those they serve.  Jerusalem Sunday is also an opportunity for Anglicans in Canada to send a measure of financial support to these ministries, especially the Penman Medical Clinic, Zababdeh, in the northern area of the West Bank.  The Penman Clinic, housed in the parish of St. Mathew, is a busy gathering place for townspeople, villagers and farmers seeking diagnostic tests, examinations and medical consultation.  It is the only clinic for many miles around, serving thousands of families per year.  Many who receive treatment in this and other diocesan institutions haven’t the money to pay for tests and prescriptions. The Directors of the Diocese’s medical ministries plan to relocate the Penman Clinic into its own building, refurbished with additional consultation rooms, diagnostic equipment and health care workers.  This will become a reality through the generous support of local, regional and international companions.

From the Dean’s Desk: Jerusalem Sunday in the Anglican Church of Canada – Seventh Sunday of Easter

Song of Praise and Prayer for Jerusalem – 

Sunset in Jerusalem
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’ 
Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.  (Psalm 122:1-2) 

Resolution A171 – General Synod, July 2013, Ottawa

Be it resolved that this General Synod:

Invite Anglicans in Canada each year:

i.    To observe the Seventh Sunday of Easter, commonly known as the Sunday after Ascension Day, as Jerusalem Sunday;

ii.   On that day give special attention to the work of the Anglican Church in the land of our Lord’s birth, death and resurrection, and;

iii.  On that day take up a special financial offering as a gift to the Diocese of Jerusalem.


The Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of Jerusalem have been companions in mission for many years – a relationship strengthened by prayer and learning about the life and witness of the diocese in Jerusalem, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. This resolution is intended to celebrate the ‘living stones’ of the Diocese of Jerusalem – Arab Christians and others serving in ministries of hospitality, education, health care, and reconciliation. This resolution is also intended to encourage local Canadian parishes and individuals to consider a special gift to the ministries of the Diocese of Jerusalem.

Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her… As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.  (Isaiah 66:11,13)

The Rt. Rev’d Bishop Suheil Salman Dawani was consecrated as Bishop Coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in January, 2006, and he was installed as Diocesan and the 14th Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem on April 15, 2007. He was born in Nablus, West Bank in 1951 and is married to Shafeeqa Fu’ad Massad; they have three daughters, Sama, Tala, and Luban.


Here is a letter from Bishop Suheil to our ++Fred:

Letter from +Suheil to ++Fred

As Diocesan Bishop, Bishop Dawani is the Chief Pastor of the 27 parishes spread through the five political regions of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. As Bishop, he is also Chairman of the Board of each of more than thirty institutions of education and healthcare spread throughout the five countries of the Diocese, including Gaza.

The diocesan schools, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation and vocational training centers provide the best possible services while reaching out to assist those who cannot afford to pay for services and strengthening the Christian presence in this region. In a multicultural, multi-faith, multi-ethnic diocese spread across five countries, Bishop Suheil is a strong advocate for peace and reconciliation. A significant member of many ecumenical and interfaith organizations, he works with the Archbishop of Canterbury on Anglican and interfaith issues. One of the thirteen recognized Heads of Churches in Israel, Bishop Dawani faithfully encourages leaders of the Churches to make every effort to strengthen the Christian presence as a moderate and mediating Body in a region torn by anxiety and unrest.

The Diocese of Jerusalem is one of four dioceses of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East. The diocese is home to almost thirty parishes, 30 priests and more than 7,000 church members in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.  Healthcare and education ministries are active and growing with the provision of hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres and schools.  A diocesan Peace and Reconciliation department works to strengthen interfaith dialogue, and Kids4Peace educates the next generation about acceptance and respect of difference and diversity.  St. George the Martyr Cathedral (below), Jerusalem is well known for its ministry to pilgrims and visitors.

St. George's Anglican Cathedral, Jerusalem

Saint George’s College, situated in the grounds of the Anglican Cathedral, provides year-round courses combining academic study, spirituality and travel. It is a place of pilgrimage, hospitality and community. Here people have transforming faith experiences through prayer, reflection and discovery. The College is an institution of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, and welcomes Pilgrims to the Diocese from all over the world to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and to meet the “Living Stones” in the Church today.

The history of the Anglican Church in Jerusalem goes back to 1841. Political developments in the region have long effected the organization and ministry of the diocese.  Today, The Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani , 14th Anglican and 4th Palestinian Bishop, emphasizes the critical role of Anglicans everywhere in ministries of peace and reconciliation.   In referring to the importance of the city of Jerusalem, Bishop Suheil emphasizes it is his duty, and that of all Christians, to make Jerusalem a model for peace between the three Abrahamic faiths. “It is our task to give hope to the hopeless. In our daily lives may we be guided by the star of God’s love.”

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you!  (Psalm 122.6)

The Rev. Canon Dr. Phyllis Keeper – Funeral

Phyllis Keeper, youngWe do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. (Romans 14:7-9)

On Thursday, May 22, 2014, our beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother passed away. Remaining to mourn for her, and to cherish her memory is her husband Joseph, daughters; Christina and Joy, sons; Lorne (Florence) and Barry (Susan), grandchildren; Jerry (Aimee), Norton, Joey (Lonna), Timmy, Craig, Jonny, Elie, Isaac, Jesse, Ozzie, Dylan, Russell, Christina, Meghan, Marina, great-grandchildren; Amethyst, Skye, Ava, Brendan, Grayson, Torin, brothers; Gordon and Cyril, sisters; Ida and Dora (Charlie) along with many, many relatives, dear friends and colleagues. Phyllis was predeceased by her parents; The Reverend Eliezer Beardy and Madeline (nee Cromarty), her brothers; The Reverend Absalom Beardy, The Reverend Thomas Beardy, Morris Beardy, Thomas Green, and her sister Lavena Martha Kakepetum.

Phyllis Keeper, priestPhyllis was born on August 30, 1934 in Big Trout Lake, Ontario. She grew up in Northern Ontario, living with her parents until she went to residential school at the age of seven; Pelican School, Sioux Lookout and Shingwauk School, Sault Ste. Marie during 1941 to 1949. She then took practical nurse training in Sudbury until moving to Winnipeg in the early 1950s. It was there she met her husband Joseph and they were married in Winnipeg on September 1, 1959. In the early 1970s, she became involved in community and social development work with families, working out of Norquay School in the Point Douglas area with the Winnipeg School Division, and later with Stella Mission of the United Church. Phyllis was a member of the Anglican Church of Canada, and her basic values, beliefs and love for people is rooted in her Christian faith. She had devoted her life and energies to the care of her family and others who came into the areas of her concern. She always believed in the basic goodness of all people, and has used this belief as one of the guiding principles of her life. Phyllis went on to become a chaplain to work in hospitals, and an ordained priest in the Anglican Church. She was involved with others in the development of St. Helen’s Church in the north end of Winnipeg where she worked until her retirement in the mid 1990s due to ill health. She continued to volunteer in many different activities, true to her lifelong community commitment; over the years she had been involved in the development of the Agape Table, Winnipeg Harvest, and for 10 years, she and elder sisters’ made bannock to feed the gathering at the Forks after the annual Mother’s Day Sisters in Spirit Walk. She always worked with various outreach programs of the Church including hospital visits, the Sharing Circle, and one activity very close to her heart was St. Matthews Sewing Circle – it was a weekly opportunity to visit, share food, to work and enjoy. In the forefront of her caring was her family, particularly her children and grandchildren. Her life can best be described in 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Phyllis KeeperWe are deeply thankful to Dr. Alojz Pacin, and to the nursing and health care aid staff at the Victoria Hospital for their kindness and care of our beloved Phyllis Keeper. Viewing and prayers will be held from 7:00 -10:00 p.m., this evening, May 27, 2014 at Neil Bardal Funeral Centre, 3030 Notre Dame Ave. across from Brookside Cemetery. Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 a,m,, Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at St. John’s Anglican Cathedral, 135 Anderson Avenue, with burial at Brookside Cemetery.

From the Dean:  Presiding at the Funeral Requiem will be The Rt. Rev. Donald D. Phillips, Bishop of Rupert’s Land.  Also present and offering the Blessing will be The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop.  Preaching will be The Rev. Canon Dr. Cathy Campbell, priest and pastor for Phyllis at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Winnipeg.  A light lunch will be served in the Cathedral basement, the John West Hall, immediately following our worship.

If you wish to offer condolences for the family, or leave a tribute to Phyllis, you may do so at


As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on May 26, 2014

[Jesus speaks to his disciples:]  I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.  (John 14:18)

We lost a beautiful friend this week, a dear friend to many, including me.  She was a respected Elder, and a deeply dedicated and committed priest of the church, and, most of all, a faithful disciple of her brother and ours, the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ.


The Rev. Canon Dr. Phyllis Keeper, daughter, sibling, woman, wife, mother, grandmother, Elder, priest, friend to multitudes, child of the Creator, and beloved sister in Christ, died on Thursday afternoon, the 22nd of May in the Year of Our Lord 2014.  Phyllis is dead.  Long live Phyllis!  Her baptismal covenant is fulfilled, she is whole and alive in Christ forever, whose love sustained her through all her life.

A wake will be held Tuesday evening, the 27th of May, at Neil Bardal Funeral Centre, 3030 Notre Dame Avenue, Winnipeg, on the south side of Brookside Cemetery.

Her funeral service will be held here at St. John’s Cathedral on Wednesday, 28 May, at 11 a.m.  There will be a light lunch served afterward in the John West Hall, and all are welcome.  Interment at Brookside will follow.

I was privileged, indeed honoured, to know her for a short time.  I really met and got to know her at all just three years ago, at my first Anglican Clergy Study Days, and, as it happened, the last one she would attend.  That’s where the above photo was taken.

It was my joy in the years since to work with her closely on several things, which often included giving her rides here and there.  That was a special time for me, as we were able to talk together, and she shared wonderfully with me of her life and faith.  In meetings she didn’t usually say a great deal, but when she spoke everyone listened, carefully.

Many will miss her.  My own heart is heavy, but I rejoice that her suffering here is done, that her life is eternally new in her Lord Jesus, whom she loved so much, knowing of his great love for her and for all.

Now we pray especially for Joe, her cherished husband of 55 years, her children, their children, her whole family, all of whom she loved, and for all the families she cared so deeply about and for and journeyed with, for all who loved her, for an abundance of friends.

She understood that God is love.  She had cause to be bitter and angry, if anyone did, but she never surrendered to the orphanhood, the dark loneliness, of bitterness and anger.  She was not perfect, of course, and was the first to admit that, but she was also very modest, very humble, soft-spoken, a beautiful person, a beautiful spirit.  In the community of the Diocese we will miss her.  In the Anglican Church of Canada we will miss her.  Her family will miss her.  I will certainly miss my older sister in Christ, my friend Phyllis Keeper.  She was a beautiful person.

Yes, we mourn, as we must, to do her honour, to honour our love for her, and her love for all.  But we do not grieve as they grieve who have no hope.  Even at the grave we celebrate her faith in a loving Creator, whose faithfulness is beyond our wildest imaginings, and we give thanks for her lifelong trust in Jesus her elder brother, Our Saviour and Lord in whom she trusted through every circumstance of life and into death.  She knew she was not an orphan; she knew she belonged, that she was loved, and she shared that love with every fibre of her being.

We’ll miss you, Phyllis.  But for your life we say,

Thanks be to God!

The Rev. Canon Dr. Phyllis Keeper, Requiescat In Pace

Our beloved sister in Christ, faithful Elder, dear friend, The Rev. Canon Dr. Phyllis Keeper, has just died.
Phyllis Keeper
We will miss her very much. But now we give thanks to God for her life and all the gifts she shared with us and with so many so freely, and we entrust her to the loving hands of our Creator, and celebrate with her the final fulfillment of her lifelong faith in our brother, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

We also pray for her cherished Joe, and for all her family, her children and their children, and all who loved her. 

More details here about the funeral once they become available.

From the Dean’s Desk… North American Deans’ Conference 2014

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…  (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Dinner in Trinity Cathedral, Miami - North America Deans' Conference, May 2014Once again it was my privilege and my pleasure to attend the annual gathering of the North American Deans’ Conference.  This year we met in Miami, Florida at Trinity Cathedral, the Cathedral Church of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida (  Our host was The Very Rev. Doug McCaleb, and a more gracious host we could not have had.  Let me share with you a few words directly from Doug:

“Our focus will be on restoration and preservation. The reality is that many of us have big, old buildings, some rarely filled to capacity. What is their purpose and mission in the 21st century? How do we maintain them? Where do we find the funds to keep them going? What can they contribute to the surrounding community? There will be lively discussions and presentations, and plenty of time for fellowship. We will begin as usual with Evensong on Thursday night, and conclude with a festive Eucharist on Sunday.”

We come from all over the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean, and indeed from cathedrals around the Anglican Communion. We represent all sizes of congregations and all theological perspectives. We share a mission of guarding the ‘mother church’ of our respective dioceses, and the conversation around common issues and challenges is invaluable.”

It was an excellent gathering, and I appreciate very much the opportunity of participating in it.  The Cathedral, with some help from the Bishop, pays for my participation and I am very grateful to you.  Thank you.

The gathering was entitled, tongue firmly in cheek: C.S.I. Miami (Cathedral Strategic Initiative).   This year’s conference included a number of exhibitors.  White Chapel Bell Foundry from London, UK, was there, for instance, to share information about the work they have been doing with churches since 1570.  Church Restoration Group from Pittsburgh, PA, was there; they are leaders in the field of disaster recovery, preservation, and sacred art conservation.

Of special interest was a presentation by Partners for Sacred Places (‘At the intersection of heritage, faith, and community’, ) which had suggestions as to how a congregation can connect with other organizations and social services to enhance a parish’s place in community life and potentially generate fundraising opportunities.

Our host Cathedral has just come through a six year, seven million dollar rebuilding after severe hurricane damage, so they were well-placed to host and lead us in conversation around TLC for the gifts of buildings which have been entrusted to our care.  They will rededicate their Cathedral this Sunday, May 18th.  We give thanks to God with them for this wonderful sign of trust and hope, and faith in God’s faithfulness.

Friday was a full day, with speakers in the morning and a panel in the afternoon; all combined to help us think together about the mission and ministry of cathedrals in the 21st century.  The discussion was rich:  How do we, as deans and doorkeepers of grand old buildings, attend to our parish, assist in our neighbourhood, and be a centre of our community? So there was much formal conversation around these matters, but also wonderful informal dialogue, conversation and reflection on these issues.

This year’s focus overall was on restoration. The Rev. Dr. Patrick Malloy from General Theological Seminary (Episcopal Church, New York) shared his thoughts on the theological underpinnings of why we need to preserve our sacred landmarks, and Mr. Robert Jaeger, President of Partners for Sacred Places, discussed the public value of our buildings and how they contribute to the enriching of our communities. We also had a panel of deans who have undergone restoration/preservation/building programs share about their experiences.  The moderator was the Dean of Washington National Cathedral, who shared, for instance, how they discovered after the earthquake that, with their one hundred million dollar insurance policy, they were grossly underinsured!

We enjoyed a wonderful pre-dinner conversation on the patio of the Cathedral, with the Bishop present (he is originally from Cuba) and even dancing with his wife to the live music.  Doug had arranged to have a pair of live pink flamingos in the fountain.  Wow, what hospitality!  Then we went into the church and enjoyed a beautiful meal set up in the Cathedral nave itself, a lovely foretaste of the Eucharist we shared there a couple days later on Sunday morning with the whole parish community.

Saturday was more relaxed, with our annual ‘business’ meeting, usually very short, this time being no exception.  The Dean of Jerusalem, The Very Rev. Hosam Naoum, was with us for the second year, straight from the UK where he had just been with the Deans of the Church of England.  He and TVR Peter Eaton (Denver, CO) gave a presentation on New Paths: Christians Engaging Israel, a fresh congregational curriculum for a deeper understanding of Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East.  There was more good conversation around that, and finally a discussion about our upcoming meetings.

The Deans were last in Jerusalem in 2004; many have moved on since then, many of us are new, including the young Dean of Jerusalem himself.  We decided this year (discussed it also last year) that we will indeed meet ‘next year in Jerusalem’.

I am looking forward to this very much, particularly in light of our Primate’s call into partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem (, which includes Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.  Our Primate, along with the Council of General Synod, has named June 1st as Jerusalem Sunday.  Look for more details coming soon, especially on Sunday, the 1st of June!

I could share more with you, but I will say, once more, thank you very much for encouraging me and supporting in my participation in the Deans’ Conference, including attendance at the annual gathering.  For all of this, including all of you, most especially, I say also,

Thanks be to God!

ANTHONY (TONY) MICHAEL RELPH: Requiescat in pace

Tony Relph, obitObituary as published by the Relph family in the Winnipeg Free Press:

On April 25, 2014, after a lengthy illness, our family sadly said goodbye to Tony at the age of 68. Tony never dwelled on any hardship, just bit down harder and persevered. He was exceedingly kind and good natured, facing life’s twists and turns with patience and calm. After moving to Canada from England in 1969 with his beloved wife, Carol, and two sons in tow, the couple settled in Winnipeg and added a daughter to the family. Tony believed in earning his keep and founded Sussex Electric, a successful business still thriving today. He loved soccer and was a life-long supporter of his favourite team, Arsenal, in the English Premier League. He’d spend Saturdays watching the club play win, lose or draw. His love of the sport extended to coaching, and he spent many years on the pitch at Gateway Community Centre. Tony discovered hockey when he moved to Winnipeg and quickly embraced it, regularly watching his Jets play as a season-ticket holder. Those passions, along with his enjoyment of golf, led to many special friendships over the years. Tony and Carol loved travelling together, and he was blessed to spend time over the last few years at his two favourite places, Florida and England.

He will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 50 years, Carol, his children, Nick (Anne), Mark (Gwen), and Debbie (Marshall), and profoundly missed by his eight grandchildren, Spencer, Cameron, Kiera, Tayllor, Madisann, Jordann, Gaige and Kayleen. He is survived by his mother, Winnifred, sisters Christine and Jean, and brothers Brian, David and Stephen. He was predeceased by his father, Frederick and his brother John. A celebration of Tony’s life will be held at St. John’s Anglican Cathedral, 135 Anderson Ave., on Wednesday, May 7, 2014, at 2:00 p.m., with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to CancerCare Manitoba or St. John’s Anglican Cathedral.

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on May 03, 2014

From the Dean’s Desk… A Stranger is invited to a Dinner at Emmaus

Emmaus Road-daniel-bonnell

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him…  (Luke 24:28-31)

The stranger Jesus on the road to Emmaus becomes the honoured guest at Emmaus who becomes the host in the breaking of the bread.  One of the most beautiful ‘commentaries’ I have read on this text comes from the Anglican cleric George Herbert, seventeenth century priest, pastor, poet and mystic, who wrote these words, familiar to many, no doubt, but always worth reading again.

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
                              Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
                             From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
                             If I lack’d any thing.
A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
                             Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
                             I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
                             Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
                             Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
                             My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
                             So I did sit and eat.


What else can be said?  Thanks be to God!