There is so much that I could share from my first travel experience of my summer sabbatical. As promised, my trip to Israel and being at or near actual Biblical places truly enables one to read the Gospels and scripture with new and fresh eyes. It is hard to appreciate the geography without being there and I’m excited to lead a group from SLC back to the Holy Land in March. I do want to give a shout out to the multi-site Canyon Creek Church (Seattle area) for allowing me to tag along and learn from them. They have done many trips and joining them was essential training in leading our group’s pilgrimage.
Our last day was filled with contrasts and juxtapositions which I think is a good way to sum up my overall experience of the Holy Land. The day started with time at the “Garden Tomb,” a possible, although unlikely site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. However, it is an excellent example of what the tomb would have looked like. It is a beautiful and peaceful place and was a great way to end our time in Jerusalem-Christ is risen! Then on the way to Jaffa, we visited the Holocaust Museum where one has to come face to face with the depths of human evil. After that sobering experience, to have some down time before we went to the airport, we visited Jaffa and I spent a couple of hours on the beach swimming in the Mediterranean sea. Yet, the tranquility of that time was overshadowed by the reality that hundreds continue to drown in those same waters as they flee from Syria and the same kind of human sin that caused the holocaust.
When I think about it, my whole experience of the Holy Land and Jerusalem was a juxtaposition of God’s grace and human sin. Israel is the most segregated and separated place I’ve ever seen. Muslim villages and Jewish villages.There are Jewish areas and Muslim areas and Christians are mixed in but are steadily exiting the Holy Land. The old city of Jerusalem is divided up in “quarters”: the Muslim, Jewish, Armenian, and Christian. Yet, this is the ground upon which our God has worked to redeem us and save us from our sin. So amidst all these divisions and hostilities are thousands upon thousands of pilgrims coming to connect with and celebrate God’s redemptive work in the world. An amazing land, and an amazing paradox.
I suppose it is the same everywhere and even in my soul-it’s just so “in your face” in Israel and Jerusalem. We are sainted sinners and I’m thankful the death and resurrection of Christ stands at the center of the Holy Land, the evil of our world, and of my heart. I’m thankful that the divisions brought about from human sin have been met with God’s grace and mercy in Christ Jesus. As I finish my time for now in the Holy Land, I pray that the event of Christ will be received by more and more and bring healing to every land and people-especially the ground upon which God has accomplished our salvation. #pbsabbatical
(BTW, on a side note, I never felt I was in an unsafe situation and the Israelis do an amazing job with security)