One would think that the week after a busy and stressful semester would be a time to relax and get house chores accomplished. The reality for me, is that what I described is FAR from the reality of my week. One week from my last exam in my fourth semester of Seminary, I am off to study and explore Israel/Palestine for 24 days. My plan was to lay low, maybe catch up on some sleep, and to read everything I could about Palestine, Israel, and Jerusalem. In the middle of these kind efforts, I have been distracted with emerging realities of both the Earthquake in Nepal, and both the peaceful and violent protests in Baltimore. A colleague of mine at Seminary has a wife and family in Nepal, and during this week, my heart has been unsettled knowing that many of his friends, and family of his parishioners have been killed in the destruction. Because I grew up in a city close to Baltimore, the riots and reality of uncovered trauma have hit close to home – quite literally. Not only am I trying to understand the realities of hurt and angry people, I am listening to all of this news, and trying to help my youth group plan a worship service around Romans 8:18-39… “Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What does it all mean for me to prepare my trip to Israel? Is an evil force trying to distract me from studying about Israel/Palestine and the Holy Land? I think I have come to terms right now that the things I will see in Israel/Palestine will allow me to grieve with others who experience great loss, as my friend is from the Earthquake in Nepal. Perhaps I will hear stories of peaceful and violent responses to bottled up anger, fear, and oppression, as Baltimore and Ferguson and other American Cities are. Perhaps what I CAN focus on in Israel/Palestine/Holy Land is the stories of true peacemakers who are making a difference from inside the conflict zones. I CAN bring home stories of those who love while being hated. I CAN bring back the pictures of people who all have a story, and see a future past a situation of injustice. I desire to hear hope in a promised land. I desire to understand Romans 8:28. . .”We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
Thanks for reading my thoughts… Back to the books, and spending valuable time with my wife!