Tag Archives: Chaldean Catholic Church

Inseparably intertwined

Trinity Sunday (May 26, 2013)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

On Tuesday this week Cindy taught her last English class with Iraqi students here in Amman. Her students threw a party in her honor. For nearly a year now Cindy has been teaching ESL classes for children and adults at the Chaldean Catholic church near the MCC offices in Jabal Webdah.

Cindy with some of her students at the Chaldean Catholic church in Amman

Cindy with some of her students at the Chaldean Catholic church in Amman (photo by Fr. Raymond)

On Wednesday we hosted a lunch for young adult staff from several MCC partners here in Amman. Daryl made West African Groundnut Stew (More-with-Less Cookbook, page 172) for the occasion. We have been inspired by the vision and commitment of many young adults who work with NGOs in Jordan.

On Thursday Carolyne and Gordon Epp-Fransen finished their four-month formal Arabic language training. We now begin a three-week orientation period as they assume the MCC Rep role here in Jordan in mid-June.

Carolyne and Gordon with Mark LaChonce, the director of their Arabic language school

Carolyne and Gordon with Mark LaChonce, the director of their Arabic language school

Saturday morning we fly to northern Iraq to introduce the Epp-Fransen’s to MCC Iraq partners; then on to Istanbul where we will meet with one of MCC’s key Iran partners. Getting visas to Iran is not possible due to the upcoming presidential elections.

In the region this week:

  • UNHCR announced a temporary lull in the arrival of Syrian refugees to Jordan due to intensified fighting on the Syrian-Jordanian border, making it difficult for refugees to cross. On Thursday the World Bank announced that it will provide $150 million of economic support to Jordan to assist with the cost of hosting the refugees. Jordan is currently hosting 540,000 Syrians.
Syrian children haul mattresses into one-room caravan homes at Za'atari Camp (photo by Muath Freij for the Jordan Times)

Syrian children haul mattresses into a one-room caravan home at Za’atari Camp (photo by Muath Freij for the Jordan Times)

  • Syrian opposition leaders began three days of talks in Istanbul, seeking a political solution to the conflict which has taken the lives of some 80,000 Syrians and uprooted an additional 5 million.
Jordanian demonstrators outside the Iraqi embassy in Amman (AP photo in Jordan Times)

Anti-riot police outside the Iraqi embassy in Amman (AP photo in Jordan Times)

The Common Lectionary readings for this Trinity Sunday highlight the interwoven relationships between members of the Trinity.

God, who is Creator and Sovereign, gives humans dominion over creation (Ps. 8) and shares everything with Jesus Christ, God’s son (John 16:15).

Jesus Christ is co-creator with God (Prov. 8:22-31) and mediator between God and humanity. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul declares (Rom. 5:1).

“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” Paul continues (Rom. 5:5). In addition to being the channel of God’s love, the Spirit guides humanity into all the truth, glorifying and bearing witness to Jesus (John 16:13-15).

Such collaboration and unselfish interaction are rare. Indeed, the relationship between the members of the Trinity is a powerful example of the kind of unity that God desires for the human community as well. In a world torn by divisions and fighting, may such unity be so!

Granddaughter Sydney tests the waters and decides it's too cold to climb in (photo by Holden Byler)

Granddaughter Sydney tests the waters and decides it’s too cold to climb in (photo by Holden Byler)

Coming with power

Pentecost Sunday (May 19, 2013)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-35; Romans 8:14-17; John 14:8-17, 25-27

As our time draws to a close in Jordan, we are receiving a number of farewell dinner invitations. Wednesday we spent a lovely evening with Wafa Goussous, who has worked with the Middle East Council of Churches and the Orthodox Initiative during the past 10 years. On Friday, our MCC Jordan colleague Nada Zabaneh hosted us for a delightful lunch in her home. On Saturday evening, Barbara Jones – with whom we served on the council at the International Anglican Church of Amman – hosted a beautiful farewell dinner for us and the Fabrycky family who is also leaving this summer.

Nada Zabaneh serves Arabic coffee after dinner

Nada Zabaneh serves Arabic coffee after dinner

Cindy conducted interviews for short-term Intensive English teachers in Iraq. This is the fourth year that MCC plans to provide ESL teachers for a program initiated by the Chaldean Catholic Church.

Our friend Wafa took this picture in her home in Jabal Amman, Wednesday. We're coming home with a few more gray hairs than when we arrived in Amman six years ago!

Our friend Wafa took this picture in her home in Jabal Amman, Wednesday. We’re coming home with a few more gray hairs than when we arrived in Amman six years ago!

In the region this week:

"I received a package of milk and diapers . . . they were my hope since I desperately needed them for my newborn twins," said Azad Al Bardan, a Syrian refugee who received assistance through MCC partner Caritas Jordan (photo by Dana Shahin)

“I received a package of milk and diapers . . . they were my hope since I desperately needed them for my newborn twins,” said Azad Al Bardan, a Syrian refugee who received assistance through MCC partner Caritas Jordan (photo by Dana Shahin)

  • Turkey alleged it has evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in the fighting in Syria.
  • Iran’s Guardian Council will announce on Tuesday the list of candidates for the June 14 elections. While 30 women have registered, one member of the Guardian Council said this week that Iran’s constitution rules out women presidential candidates. Women are allowed to run for parliamentary seats.

The Common Lectionary readings for this Pentecost Sunday highlight the impact of God’s Holy Spirit.

The story in Acts is the most familiar. God’s Spirit comes from heaven with the sound of a rushing wind and tongues of fire rest on the disciples of Jesus, giving them the ability to speak in diverse languages so that everyone in the crowd is able to hear in his or her own language about God’s deeds of power (Acts 2:1-13). Some allege that the disciples are drunk, but Peter reminds the crowd that the prophets of foretold the coming of the Spirit with power, helping some to see visions and others to dream dreams (vv.17-21).

Our friend Agnes Chen, who served as a HNGR intern with Caritas Jordan, graduated from Wheaton College this week.

Our friend Agnes Chen, who served as a HNGR intern with Caritas Jordan, graduated from Wheaton College this week.

The psalmist associates the coming of God’s Spirit with creation and renewal of the earth (Ps. 104:30).

In the Epistle reading, Paul writes that God’s Spirit connects with our human spirit, reminding us that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16).

In the Gospel reading, Jesus says that God’s Spirit of truth will serve as our Advocate (John 14:16, 26), abiding with us to teach us everything and to remind us of the words of Jesus (vv. 17, 26).

Our prayer for Pentecost is that God’s Spirit will come with power, bringing new understanding between warring nations, helping leaders to see visions of justice and peace, renewing the earth, teaching humanity how to follow the way of Jesus, and reminding all that we are God’s children.

Lunch feast at Nada's house (left to right): Cindy, Carolyne & Gordon, Nada and Luna

Lunch feast at Nada’s house (left to right): Cindy, Carolyne & Gordon, Nada and Luna

Day 33

From Feb. 5 – Mar. 16, 2003, I engaged in a 40-day fast, urging then President George W. Bush to consider alternatives to war with Iraq. Each day, I sent the President a letter — with copies to Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice — using the Daily Office Readings (from the President’s Episcopal tradition) as a foundation for my reflections. For the next 10 days, I plan to re-post the letters from Days 31 to 40 of the fast, interspersing them with photos of Iraqis. Whether one supported or opposed the war, the costs are indisputably high. -Daryl (March 7, 2013)

A kindergartener at Kids House, run by Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Ankawa, Iraq

A kindergartener at Kids House, run by Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Ankawa, Iraq, for internally displaced children

Human cost of Iraq war:
Iraqi civilian casualties: 121,754
Iraqi security casualties: 10,125
U.S. military casualties: 4,488
Uprooted Iraqis: 5.0 million

Financial cost of Iraq war:
$831.9 billion

 

March 9, 2003

Daily Office Readings
Morning
– Psalm 63, 98
– Deuteronomy 8:1-10
– I Corinthians 1:17-31
Evening
– Psalm 103
– Mark 2:18-22

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Bush:

Today’s Daily Office readings are about wilderness, wineskins and weakness.

When David is in the wilderness he cries out: “O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Ps. 63:1) Even in his distress David affirms, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”(v.3) The psalmist exhorts all the earth to make a joyful noise to God for God’s marvelous acts (98:1), God’s victories and vindication in the sight of the nations (v.2), and God’s steadfast love (v.3). In Psalm 103, David blesses God for what God has done and for who God is. God forgives iniquity and heals diseases (v.3), redeems us and crowns us with steadfast love (v.4), satisfies us with good (v.5), works vindication and justice for the oppressed (v.6) and shows compassion (v.13). God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”(v.8)

Former MCC worker John Filson inspects St. Peter's Seminary construction site with then seminary president Bashar Warda, who is now Caldean Catholic Archbishop of Erbil (Nov. 2007).

Former MCC worker John Filson inspects St. Peter’s Seminary construction site with then seminary president Bashar Warda, who is now Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Erbil (Nov. 2007).

In the Old Testament reading, as the people are about to enter the “promised land” Moses tells them to remember that God led them for 40 years in the wilderness, “in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments.”(Deut. 8:2) “Therefore,” Moses concludes, “keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him.”(v.6)

In the Gospel reading, Jesus teaches that the new wine of his kingdom requires new wineskins. Old wineskins cannot contain his fresh new message and ways (Mark 2:21-22).

The chapel at St. Peter's Seminary.  As many as two-thirds of the Christian community has fled Iraq since the war, bearing the brunt of animosity of what some perceived as a U.S. "crusade" against Iraq. Many Christians who remain in Iraq have moved to the northern part of the country where they are building new institutions like St. Peter's Seminary.

The chapel at St. Peter’s Seminary.  As many as two-thirds of  Iraqi Christians have fled Iraq since the war, bearing the brunt of animosity for what some perceived as a U.S. “crusade” against Iraq.  Many Christians who remain in Iraq have moved to the northern Kurdish area, where they are rebuilding institutions like St. Peter’s (formerly in Baghdad) as well as building new schools and hospitals.

In the Epistle reading, Paul recognizes that the cross of Christ is the power of the gospel, not Paul’s eloquent wisdom (I Cor. 1:17). This message of the cross – a message of apparent weakness – seems foolish to many. But Paul reminds them that “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”(v.25) “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.”(vv.27-29)

Mr. President, wilderness, wineskins and weakness seem like relevant themes for us today as well.

This is a wilderness time for the United States. After September 11, many feel vulnerable and are worried about the future. The wilderness is a time of testing. It is a time of testing who we trust and what are the values that we truly hold dear.

Before the war, Daryl presents a peace lamp to the late Chaldean Catholic Patriarch  Raphael I Bidawid, who died in 2003.  Bishop Louis Raphaël I Sako was installed as Chaldean Patriarch, Mar. 6, in Baghdad.  Chaldean Catholics are the largest Christian community in Iraq, and, while being an Eastern church, have full communion with Rome. (MCC photo by Mark Beach - May 2002)

Daryl presents a peace lamp to the late Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid one year before the war. Patriarch Bidawid died in 2003. Bishop Louis Raphaël I Sako was installed as Chaldean Patriarch in Baghdad, Mar. 6, 2013. Chaldean Catholics are the largest Christian community in Iraq.  An Eastern church, they have full communion with Rome. (MCC photo by Mark Beach – May 2002)

There is a need for new wineskins today. The old wineskins seem to be bursting. Other nations seem to be clearly telling us that they do not feel secure with the old wineskins of a U.S.-dominated world. It is time for new wineskins. It is time for fresh ways of relating in the global community — not with overpowering force, not with unilateral actions, not by telling other nations what they must do, but by working cooperatively as one member of the global family to address pressing problems.

But if we have the power to dominate the world, won’t this appear weak and foolish to some? Perhaps. But this is our faith. What could seem weaker and more foolish than a cross for changing the course of history? And yet this is how our God works. We are called to follow in laying down our lives for the well-being of the world.

Since the war, Sister Elham and the Daughters of Mary, a Chaldean Catholic order, have moved St. Ann's Orphanage from Baghdad to the northern village of Al Qosh (Nov. 2007)

Since the war, Sister Elham and the Daughters of Mary, a Chaldean Catholic order, have moved St. Ann’s Orphanage from Baghdad to the northern village of Al Qosh (Nov. 2007)

Mr. President, we seem to be at a critical juncture in the shape of the global order. My prayer for you today is that you will have the courage to embrace the wilderness as a time of testing, the vision to see the new wineskins that are needed for a healthy global order and the strength to appear weak and foolish in the eyes of some.

Sincerely,
J. Daryl Byler