To the Holy Land

Tomorrow, Jean and I will board a plane to Israel and the Palestinian Territory. Twenty-one of us will share the journey. It still doesn’t seem real, but it is beginning to sink in. All my life I have read and studied the Bible, learning the geography, culture, teachings and politics of this region. I go with mixed emotions. A part of me resists elevating the meaning of geography. Yes, our Lord Jesus  was born there and walked the area. Names like Galilee, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jordan River, Gethsemane, Jerusalem mean something to me. At the same time I am confident that God does not reside only or even extraordinarily in a particular place. I walk with Jesus each day in Huntsville. He has carried me in his arms everywhere I have gone. Yet, I expect the experience to be a palpable one. Walking biblical history will stir emotions and evoke thoughts that will change me. Seeing the geography of the Bible will awaken a  new and deeper understanding of God’s Word. I am also interesting in developing a deeper and fuller  understanding of the political situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.  I have always believed that Israel has a right to exist as a nation, but that the Palestinian people justly deserve the same right. My prayer and hope is that both would find a way to live in respectful peace and justice. Unfortunately, that has not happened and I am not optimistic that it will happen any time soon. I expect to leave with a better understanding, and even more questions. Please pray for the peace of Jerusalem. That name, Jeru=city; salem=peace, wholeness; it would seem a contradiction in terms. But I believe it is God’s vision. I have been reflecting on Psalm 133:

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard,

Running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.

For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

Is the psalmist speaking of a geographical city, or God’s vision for humanity? Or both?

We ask your prayers as we travel.

Hal