Skip to main content

israel recap: the windows of the holy land

after my trip to the holy land, i promised you that i would write one final post to sort of wrap up my whole experience there, and although it has taken awhile, i am finally delivering on that promise. 

while our time there was a whirlwind of activity and a bullrush of information, i spent enough time looking through windows into the past, windows into my own assumptions, and windows into the bible that some light certainly made its way through.  beyond simply having a good time and experiencing a different part of the world, i was both blessed and challenged in deeper ways. 

one of the great blessings was experiencing what many have called "the fifth gospel," referring to the incredible visual-ness of being there.  it is one thing to read that Jesus was baptized in the jordan river; it is quite another thing to actually reach down and touch its water.  it is something amazing to read that Jesus turned water into wine, it is something altogether different to spend an hour in the town where it happened.  i felt simiilar experiences every day: in bethlehem, in jerusalem, on the sea of galilee, in the wilderness, on the mount of olives, and so forth.  one of the great blessings of this trip is that the bible leaps to life, as if brought from black and white to full screen high defintion technicolor.  like i am dorothy and i have just landed in oz, opened the doors and discovered that the bible is full of colors i had never imagined!  it is a kind of biblical awakening that all Christians would be blessed to experience, i think. 

another of the blessings/challenges of the trip was the learning i was able to do in regards to the relationship between palestine and the nation of israel.  while i have heard this stuff on the news, i regret to admit that i was largely ignorant of the real issues at stake.  being there, meeting both israelis and palestinians, seeing the complicated issues that define the conflicts, i became acutely aware of the problems they are facing there, and how they are often misrepresented and misinterpreted by the media here in the states.  i learned a great deal about the need not only for peace, but also for justice.  i was reminded of the blatant hypocrisy of praying for peace without doing anything to actually live for justice.  for the oppressed and the oppressor. 

finally, i got to go to the holy land and meet Jesus again.  walking down the mount of olives where Jesus once rode a donkey, it was nearly impossible not to see with new eyes the loaded significance of that moment.  i got to ride across the sea of galilee and see the land (and water!) Jesus walked.  i got to go to nazareth and see the land of his youth.  i got to go to the wilderness and see the land of his retreat.  i got to go to jerusalem and see the maze where his ministry made him a criminal.  i got to go to a place where i was able to stand up on my tippy-toes and look through windows which revealed a different side of Jesus: a political Jesus who wasn't ignoring rome, but was choosing non-violent ways of challenging their oppression.  here is a savior who not only prayed for peace, but sought justice without violence.  he healed instead of breaking.  he taught love, not hand to hand combat.  he wanted righteousness, not religious bravado.  he wanted real Truth to set people free, not another rebellion to replace one oppressive government with another one.  he taught us about a new kind of kingdom.  one where weakness turns out to be strength.  one where death turns out to be life.  one where hope never fails us because death doesn't have the final word.  for now, paul reminds us, we see it dimly, like looking through a thick and smudged window, but one day we shall see this kingdom clearly, and it will all make sense: it is a kingdom of love. 

for now, though, we look through whatever windows we can find, hoping to catch a glimpse of this kingdom, and the One who founded it.  thanks for taking the time to look with me.  and someday, when i go back to the holy land, i hope you'll come with me, so we can look even more closely together. 



Crafty P said…
i love windows and doorway images. my dad brings them back, for me, whenever he travels to Italy!

Popular posts from this blog


i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

vote. and pray. but do not be afraid (the King is alive).

i'm not sure how many americans right now are feeling optimistic about the government.  i know i'm not.  in fact, while i didn't live through the civil war or anything, i have to think that faith in our elected leaders - indeed the whole system of electing them in the first place - is at one of its lowest points.  i just don't have a great deal of confidence in those individuals who have been elected, or in those who want to be.  i find myself slipping at times into what feels like a swamp of apathy: sinking, to be sure, but not sure that i care enough anymore to do much about it.  i see this attitude all around me: in conversations, on social media, and in popular culture.  perhaps there is no more clear indication of our nation's view of the government than this current election season, when we would teeter on electing liars and thieves, crooks and clowns. 

which is why i was so startled as i sat down to read psalm 72 this morning. as i read the ancient song, i…

Steelers Training Camp 2016

on friday i had the opportunity to lead a group of 10 of us to latrobe for the annual friday night lights steelers practice at latrobe memorial high school stadium, along with 12,000 of our closest friends. we drove out there, did the steelers experience with the kids (including bounce house races, rock wall, face painting, spinning the prize wheel, football toss, and a photo op with the steelers' 6 lombardi trophies, among other things). then we waited in line to get in, so that we could get our position around the autograph fence, and then there was a significant amount of waiting.  but at least the weather was beautiful!  we enjoyed good conversation and laughter along with homemade steelers cookies.  finally the team and coaches arrived on school busses and the autograph session began.  you never know who might come your direction, so we were pretty surprised when ben roethlisberger came near us and started signing.  sure enough, he came our way, and i got his autograph on his…