One of the familiar hymns of my childhood was:
“Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear// scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea, stories of Jesus, tell them to me.” (VU 357, William Parker, 1885).
An opportunity to travel to Israel (June 6-12) on a pilgrimage came my way and I said yes. Yes to explore the places I have only read about in Bible stories: Bethlehem, the river Jordan, Lake of Galilee, Mount of Olives, Calvary, and Jerusalem. Yes to see the Holy Land where Jesus lived, ministered and died. Yes to experience the centuries old presence of Jews, Christians and Muslims in the ruins, the sights and sounds of this both historical and modern day land.
I will hear the names of stories from Sunday school and the Hebrew Scriptures: Ruth, Abraham, Sarah, King David, Moses, Elijah, Deborah. My Christian roots are intertwined with the Jewish faith that birthed the prophets and Jesus, the One I follow.
After the resurrection Thomas wanted proof that Jesus was who he said. Show me the marks of the nails and spear so I can believe, he said. Jesus showed him and said: ‘Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me.’ (John 20: 29).
For all of my life I have believed that the historical Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ of my faith. I do not look for proof of his existence in Israel but rather for the context that birthed him: a revolutionary who took on both the religious status quo and the Empire in a turbulent and chaotic time.
My faith believes that in chaos there is creativity. I believe that God is present in our journey of life and faith, guiding and giving the courage we need in difficult decisions. Jesus’ teaching and example can give courage to SouthWest in these months as we look at our future directions.
I will travel light. The Gospels for reading material, my journal to write observations, insights, questions and prayers, an open heart and mind, and a prayerful spirit.
I’ll share some of these experiences with you after my return.
- Rev. David
May the peace of Christ support you,
the love of God surround you
and the Holy Spirit surprise you
with joy and laughter, meaning and hope,
now and always.
Que la paix du Christ vous soutienne,
Que l’amour de dieu vous entoure,
Et que le Saint-Esprit vous surprenne
Dans la joie et le rire,
Dans le sens et l’espérance,
Maintenant et pour toujours.