I waited a couple of days to write a blog about my final day in Israel. I did this for two reasons: I didn’t have internet to post a blog Saturday; and I wanted time to really reflect upon what I saw.
My final day in Israel was almost like walking the Life of Christ backwards. We started the day off with the Mt. of Olives, then went to the Pool of Bethesda, then the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and finished the day in Bethlehem.
In non-geographic terms: We started the day off where Jesus ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:12)—and also where He spent his final hours as a free man praying (Luke 22:39-53; also where John 17 may have been prayed), then the Pool of Bethesda is where the miracle of John 5 occurred (this is the “hitch” in the day being exactly like walking the last days of Christ backwards).
Going to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher means going to the traditionally held site where Jesus rose from the grave, and also where the cross stood. This church has a lot of history. Look it upà http://www.churchoftheholysepulchre.net/
And the time in Bethlehem was spent mostly at the Church of the Nativity, which is located upon the spot where they believe Jesus was born. Further than that, they believe it is located exactly upon the inn where Mary and Joseph stayed during the census of Luke 2. And a further juicy part of that site is that there is also attached to the original Cathedral (there are 3 or 4 layers of Cathedrals built there dating back to Constantine’s mother Helena) is the grave of Jerome, and the room where he translated the Vulgate. à http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Nativity
But this blog post is not so much about those sites as it is processing what it means to have been at these locations. Not only this, but what it means to have spent 8 days walking around Israel and seeing various archaeological digs, amazing cathedrals, swimming in the Dead Sea, riding across the Sea of Galilee, and spending time at the Temple Mount.
How am I supposed to explain all of these things? Or better yet, what am I supposed to learn from experiencing all of these sites?
As a student of the Scriptures, and consequently of Church History, my answer comes has to be filtered through my favorite Psalm, which just so happens to be the Psalm I read today for my marriage calendar countdown.
Here it is for you, but to spice it up, I am going to give Eugene Peterson’s translation of it. I think it captures my contemplations and desires as I wrestle through what this trip is meant to do for me and my ministries.
1 God, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain.
I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans.
2 I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.
Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.
3 Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always
Ecclesiology (theology of Church stuff) is not simple. Explaining historical blunders and escapades by the Church is even harder. Yet some squabbles and pedantic politics of American Church background begins to seem trite and inconsequential when you sit upon the steps going to the Temple mentioned in Acts 4, or as you stand in a Cathedral controlled by 6 divergent streams of Christianity (1054 was an exciting yearà http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East%E2% 80%93West_Schism ), or walk through the olive trees where Christ very possible prayed
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent….Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one….My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth (John 17:3, 11b, 15-17 NIV)
…Gives ya some perspective…
I cannot claim to know much. I cannot claim to be the best leader either. In fact, sometimes I wonder if I will be a good husband and pastor in the future. Yet, as I look at history — the sites I saw specifically, and filter all of the bible and medieval sites through Psalm 131, I know that God is ultimately in control. My trust is in Him, not in my own strength and capability.
Praise God that He is my hope. And I think that is what it means to ascend in the Psalms: Setting your hope and praise upon the Lord of all the earth.