Sunday, December 30, 2018

Where Jesus walked...

I walked today where Jesus walked" --a hymn I've often sung. But today it happened.

We visited the modern city of Nazareth in Israel but populated by 50% Orthodox Christians and 50% Muslims. Almost no Jews live there.

Our bus drove to the top of Mt. Precipice in Nazareth, where our leader the Reverend Jacoba Vermaak explained the time Jesus got in trouble there and the people of his home town wanted to throw him off a cliff. Was it this one? Read Luke 4:16-30.

Then we toured the city of Zipori six miles away, where many laborers of Nazareth worked. Was Jesus one of them? The wealthy people of this city supported Rome when most of Judah and Israel tried to overthrow the Empire in 66-67 C.E., so their city was not destroyed when the Roman government destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.

Tonight we're staying in Kibbutz Ein-Gev on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, which is 600 ft. below sea level because it lies along the Rift Valley caused by a major fault zone-- two continents drifting apart, causing a crack and drop down of the land. Why didn't any Sunday school teacher tell me that this lake is below sea level?

Tonight walking on the shores of the lake where Jesus walked, I realized how much Jesus loved these mountains and the lake beneath them. The Rev. Jacoba says he and the disciples continued to fish to support themselves while Jesus preached the good news that God is near. Read Mark 1.

I looked up at the stars and thought about how often Jesus retreated to these mountains to pray at night. He looked up at these same stars. He probably knew the constellations; in Zipori there is a beautiful mosaic floor that includes a circular design of the Zodiac. I recognized Cancer, the crab.

Toni Morrison says that the past is never truly past; an event continues to have a presence in the place where it occurred. The site of the 9/11 attack is forever tainted.

But the site of a good event is forever blessed.  I could feel that tonight.  Standing alone in cold December beneath the starry sky, I glimpsed how Jesus felt standing here: his wonder at creation and love for wind-driven waves, for dark skies of infinite depth. Did he go out to be alone and pray on blustery winter nights like this? Was he cold and wet sometimes? Did he stay inside instead?

How did he and his crew stay warm? No down jackets or snug socks and running shoes. Being closer to the mind of Jesus was thrilling but brought many questions.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

O Come Ye, O Come Ye, to Bethlehem

Christmas carols have a special ring to them this year as I prepare to travel to Israel, Palestine, and possibly Jordan on December 28, returning January 20.

"O Come, All Ye Faithful" invites us to Bethlehem to behold Jesus.  

Hold on, I'm coming!  (unless there's violence that causes a close of the border crossings).

I will begin with a ten-day tour led by the Reverend Dr. Jakoba Vermaak of Wilshire Presbyterian Church.  Our group will include 22 Americans, an Israeli archaeologist and tour guide, and an Arab-speaking bus driver.  Imagine Tours & Travel is making all the arrangements.  

Cost is $3495 for ten days including airfare and taxes, hotels, breakfast and dinner, and guides.

Then I will spend two more weeks on my own, staying for ten nights at Ecce Homo Convent built on the spot where King Herod's palace was and where Jesus was interrogated and flogged.  I haven't figured out the last three nights, but I hope to get to Petra in Jordan and to spend another day or two around Nazareth or Capernaum (near the sea of Galilee).

Thank you to my sister, the Reverend Emily McColl, for letting me know about Ecce Homo Convent  ($69 per night) and for her many travel tips!  She has been twice before.

I'm hoping to practice my conversational Hebrew, having taken classes for about ten years.  

And of course, also hoping to see Jesus... somewhere.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Day 700

General James N. Mattis

How have we arrived at day 700 of the dt presidency?  

It's been a hard couple of years, but this fool is on his way out.

Today the conversations, at home and on our television sets and radios, contain phrases like:

  • chaos
  • fumble
  • throwing a temper tantrum
  • last adult in the room
  • off the rails
  • adult day care
  • verge of a shutdown
  • stock market tanks

This presidency will not survive beyond the year 2019.  The tweeter-in-chief  probably won't even make it to Day 1000.

Thanks be to God!  

Our long ordeal is ending.  He is self-destructing.  

General James N. Mattis, Secretary of Defense, stood up to the president today.  Thank you, General Mattis!

Now we need a few more Republicans to discover some backbone.

Here's how the LA Times described the resignation of Mattis this afternoon:

Mary, Mother of Jesus: Fierce and Vocal

Every year we honor Mary, the mother of Jesus, but we see her as "a silent prop up there, holding a baby and looking sweet," says the Reverend Katy Fitz Shedlock, a Methodist minister in Spokane, Washington.

She designed a different kind of Christmas pageant.  Mary is a pregnant teen who has a cell phone to text Joseph and speaks out holding a mic.

Thank you to Judith Steinmetz in San Francisco, who sent me a link to this article:

Judith also sent this link from today's Washington Post: