THE ARAB CHRISTIANS IN BETHANY BEYOND THE RIVER
January, 20.2000


    What did you go out into the desert to see ?

    This question is two thousand years old, JESUS Christ presented it to the groups, who were in Bethany to the east of Jordan in order to listen to John the Baptist, and to get Baptism. The whole thing that the Christ waited from the groups was to be sure if the heated words influenced on them, and encouraged them to change themselves or not.

    After two thousand years, those are the heirs of the place, and the heirs of the New Testament –The Arab Christians in Jordan rushed as groups and individuals towards Bethany, motivating the Groups to talk and utter. Indeed if they keep quite the stones, which are the evidence from two thousand years will cry out as proof of what happened on the Eastern Bank of the Mighty Jordan River. On the seventh of January 2000, more than 30,000 of the Christian came to the Baptistery chanting happily in order to listen clearly to the Father’s voice which opened the heavens above this holy and pure place said: ” you are my son whom I love, with you, I am well pleased “. They came to renew the memory of Christ, the Master, who opened the rows of the crowded people around John the Baptist asking to be baptized upon his hands, and this was … But the groups in that time didn’t know that there descendants in Faith and Baptism would come to this place after 2000 years not to remember John the Baptist but to glorify the memory of Christ – The Master whom John the Baptist announced: “You will witness that I said that I am not the Christ. Among you stands one you do not know, He is the one who comes after and the thongs of whose Sandals I am not worthy to untie.” That was happened on the 7th of January 2000 in Bethany where John was Baptizing. In the same place, where the strong faith – roots motivated every participant and faced every believer in form of questions from the Bishop who celebrated to the audience and said: ”Oh! Arab Christians who are full of the joy of participation in this historical day, Oh! People who are making this place full of life in your steps, voices, prayers, and hymns, What did you go out into Bethany and the Wadi Kharrar (the valley of Kharrar) to see?

    And here is the writer of these lines who participated proudly, like thousands of his brothers from the Arab Christians in this Ecclesial and patriotic event, asking his brothers in Christ to give him the honor of representing them in order to answer this question, trying to clarify the features of the Christians Faith in this century even in this Millennium and say: “We, the Arab Christians, went out to this place where our Master was baptized, renewing our baptism promises in the roots of Arabism and in Christianity. We went out announcing in one voice, without hesitation, In Devil…Yes we unbelief…. And in his deeds, in his vanities, and in his temptations. Also in higher and higher voice we announced … in God who is the Creator of Earth and Heavens, yes, we believe. This Announcement tightly attached to the Christians with its specified features.

    We, the Arab Christians, went to the desert following the steps of the first Master. We asked God who is the Mighty to make us qualified in doing our tasks without boring or distress, and to become as the Baptist motivated us to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” for our personal sins as for the common sins that the external face of the Church may did over the past 2000 years. We prayed to our God for the sake of our Christianity in order to be, as our Master wants” Oh! Lord who was Baptized before 2000 years in the Jordan River, Baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire”.

    We, the Arab Christians, went out to this Mighty Bank to blaze the Candle of the great Jubilee and from it we blazed two thousand Candles symbolizing two thousand years for our faith and Baptism. In the presence of our church presidents in Jordan and the Minister of tourism in our beloved country, Jordan which we sacrifice it in our hearts and in our spirits. We blazed the light from the place where our Lord began his missionary life… and where the Christian faith began to attach closely to the East and West of this Earth.

    We, the Arab Christians, went out to Bethany lifting the flag of the great Jubilee for the 2000 years on the birthday of our Christ in Bethlehem and to renew the roots of our Christianity in Bethany step by step with the flag of Jordan which we began our celebration in hanging it highly and with the National Anthem and with the flag of Vatican which we considered as the symbol of our religious membership in the East especially in our country, which is perfumed with the saints and the breezes of God .

    We, the Arab Christians, went out to this Valley (Bethany) and flew a flock of white Doves which reminded us to the Holy Spirit which was hovering from the beginning over the face of this pure water like a dove. We raised our prayers with the perfume of incense for the sake of Peace in the world while our brothers, the Copts in Jordan, in Coptic language were praying for Peace and Unity. Hoping that the differences in religion, race, language, or beliefs will be a motivator for rich Unity not for hatred, fighting, and sedition. One of the chanters raised the flag of the great Jubilee, which has five different doves in different colors, but they are interlocking hormonally with each other, symbolizing the five continents, which will be “a small village”.

    We, the Arab Christians, went out to the Cradle of Christianity to light the Christmas tree symbolizing our celebrations in the Birth of Christ. The celebration of Christmas and the celebration of our brothers the Muslims in the feast of El-fitre came synchronically. Indeed, our Celebrations and Festivals are one, not for terminological meeting, but for the meeting of hearts of brothers which forum one body, and if an organ of the this body complains, all the organs will also suffer. The decoration of Christmas tree became more stunning because of the presence of the Minister of tourism, the Governor of Balqa, and the Policemen who are the eye-guard in our country while the eye of mothers and infants sleep happily and securely.

    We, the Arab Christians, went out to the historical Baptistery in order to draw in the shadow of charming nature a mosaic picture. Upon the entrance of the third Millennium the meeting of our Spiritual presidents in different sects and rights is the real picture in its greatest harmony. And the meeting with the Minister of tourism is another greatest picture for our celebration to be a Jordanian wedding and religious hymn Simultaneously.

    Finally, we are the descendants of the people who drew the mosaic picture of the fourth century AD. Where they wrote:” those people are the Christ lovers on the walls of Madaba”, the mosaic city, of Wahadneh town, the place where prophet Elyja was born, and of other cities and villages in Jordan, but the mosaic which we drew on the 7th of January 2000 AD in the valley of Kharrar (Bethany) is reckoned in history and will not be erased: “This Arabic Christian people are the lovers of Christ, of Home, of the King of Jordan and of all the Man-Kind “.

 Fr.Rifat Bader
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem