The Pope Arrives In Jerusalem!
Jerusalem is literally shut down today because Pope Francis the First is arriving in order to meet with the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, Bartholomew. After church this morning we went for a walk in the Old City and very nearly got stuck in the Arab quarter as the police started seriously blockading access within the city. There are guards everywhere and snipers on rooftops. Helicopters are flying overhead. We are now confined to the Christ Church complex with guards at our gates. People moving outside can only do so with a police escort. We just witnessed a scuffle between the police and a black robed priest who was not allowed to pass through. “I am just going right over there!!” he gesticulated violently. Three policeman escorted him back the way he came.
There are bells ringing profusely. We will not be going anywhere for awhile.
This is a very important and historic meeting between these two world religions. There has been a broken relationship between them since the year 1054 when Cardinal Humbert, the pope’s representative, marched into the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and placed a papal bull of excommunication on the altar. This began a rift between the Western and Eastern church that has lasted a thousand years.
Unity is hard to achieve; and a broken and split communion may never be healed. Yet God is able to take the things that are broken and redeem them. Today both of these branches of the church are strong in the world. God knows what the future holds for their becoming a common communion again. Some day all God’s people will be united together under the banner of Christ!
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