Well worth a look! From the Anglican Church of Gosford:
The holiest places for Christians are in Jerusalem. The holiest of all these places is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is where the heart of Christianity beats.
Yet, few know that it is a Muslim who opens and closes the only door to this holiest of Christian sites.
In fact, it’s two Muslims from two different Jerusalem Palestinian clans who have been the custodians of the entrance to the Holy Sepulchre since the 12th century.
Every morning, at 4:30, one travels from his apartment outside the walls of the Old City to bring the cast-iron key to the church, just as his forebears did before him.
Once there, he entrusts the key to the other who knocks at the gate to call the priests and the pilgrims who spend the night praying inside. From inside the church, a wooden ladder is passed through a porthole to help him unlock the upper part of the enormous door.
Then, he unlocks the lower one before handing the precious key back to the first. The ritual is reversed every evening at 7:30, after hundreds of tourists and pilgrims have left the church.
Why the elaborate ritual? As often happens in Jerusalem, a city holy to several peoples and religions, there are different versions to explain why two Muslim families hold the key to the holiest site in Christendom.
After the Muslim conquest in 637, the Caliph Omar guaranteed to the Archbishop that the Christian places of worship would be protected and so entrusted the custodianship to a family who originated in Medina and who were related to the Prophet Muhammad. It happened again in 1187, after Saladin ended the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.
He chose the family again to look after the peace between the different Eastern and Western Christian confessions, which were at odds over control of the Sepulchre.
So what does it mean to hold the key to the heart of another’s faith and what does it mean to have that key held for you.
These two Muslim families have for almost 1000 years been conscious of the privilege of serving the Christian community and the Christians have for that same millennium been conscious that their freedom to worship is held gently in the hands of another.
And so it is for us in this nation today, our freedom to pray or not to pray for that matter is held in the hands of others, hopefully in the gentle hands of honourable friends and caring neighbours. Our particular expression of secular democracy ensures our religious freedom and our religious freedom ensures our secular democracy.
We come together today as friends and neighbours from many faiths and from none to celebrate our human solidarity in our human diversity acknowledging that the key to our precious and fragile freedom lies in each others hands.
We continue to preserve this great privilege only by opening the door to each other.