John Wesley preached outdoors because the Church of England denied him a pulpit over his evangelical theology. He could have left the Anglican Church but didn’t. They didn’t want him. His theology was too evangelical. His love was too extravagant. His methods too unorthodox. So they shut him out of churches and pulpits. They could not silence Wesley. Instead he preached in the open air – in fields, markets, and cemeteries and the crowds loved him.
Today it was my privilege to read and expound the scriptures in the open air in Whitehall outside Downing Street before an estimated 15,000+ Jews, Muslims, Christians and those of no faith, all with police protection. It was truly one of the highlights of my ministry. (click on the photo above to watch my presentation). The text of my presentation together with photos and more short videos may be found below.
What are your hopes for Al Quds? What is your vision for Jerusalem? What do you pray for Yerushaláyim? Is it for a return to 1967 and Jordanian rule? Or the British Mandate of 1917? The Ottoman rule of 1517? The Mamluks of 1250 or the Ayyubid dynasty of Saladin from 1187? Or do you long for the return of the Islamic Caliphate of 638? Or even earlier, the rule of the Herod, Alexander, Artaxerxes or Cyrus? Or even a return to the reign of King David or Solomon?
During its long 4,000 year history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. Jesus was not the first and will not the last to weep over Jerusalem. The Bible tells us,
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side… They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:41-44)
Jesus prediction came true in 70AD when the Romans demolished the city and built their pagan Aelia Capitolina, to occupy, suppress and control its citizens. Today we weep too that Al Quds, the Old City and East Jerusalem remain, after 56 long years, under Israeli military occupation.
A military occupation based on segregation, and apartheid, a colonisation involving ethnic cleansing, in breach of international law, Geneva Conventions and UN Resolutions.
That is why no country (apart from the USA) recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the city. But what kind of Al Quds do you envision? What kind of Jerusalem are you marching for today? Is it for an open, inclusive city of faith?
Let me be frank. Is there a place in your Jerusalem for Jews, for Muslims, for Christians and those of no faith? Is there a place for Sunnis as well as Shias, for Salafists as well as Sufis? Is there a place for all those born there? All those who have found refuge there? All those driven out by fear or persecution?
What kind of Al Quds do you want? Perhaps we should instead ask ‘What kind of Al Quds does God want? Long before Jesus or Mohammed were born, God inspired the prophet David to envision a city whose residents would be identified by their faith not race.
“Glorious things are said of you, city of God: “I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me – Philistia too, and Tyre along with Cush – and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’” Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.” The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” (Psalm 87)
The prophet Isaiah envisions Jerusalem as a city where God teaches the nations, where swords are turned into plough shares and spears into pruning hooks. (Isaiah 2:4).
That is why Jesus insisted Jerusalem must be a place of prayer for all nations. “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ (Mark 11:17).
Therefore, if we wish to do God’s will, we will work and pray for Al Quds to become an inclusive city that reflects God’s vision, a city of equality, a city of tolerance and mutual respect, a city of justice, peace & reconciliation not just for Palestine but a model, an inspiration for the entire world. Insha’Allāh.
See further photographs here and videos here