I am in Israel with a group of Episcopal clergy plus one Episcopal layperson, led by a Roman Catholic nun named Sister Ruth Lautt. We will be learning about issues of peace between Israelis and Palestinians while we are here, but I won’t be blogging about those things until after the trip is over, by agreement with the other trip participants. Just a few general observations as we begin our first full day in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is, famously, a city on a hill. Driving into Jerusalem from the Tel Aviv airport yesterday was impressive, as we gradually ascended from sea level up the rocky slopes to Jerusalem. We drove through the kind of desert familiar to an Arizonan like me – a green and rocky desert – through a very modern traffic jam. I imagined centuries of pilgrims doing the same journey, on bare feet and in chariots and in automobiles. I heard in my mind the voices of all those pilgrims singing the songs of ascent, such as the one we read in the bus as we climbed – Psalm 122:
|1||I was glad when they said to me, *
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
|2||Now our feet are standing *
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
|3||Jerusalem is built as a city *
that is at unity with itself;
|4||To which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD, *
the assembly of Israel,
to praise the Name of the LORD.
|5||For there are the thrones of judgment, *
the thrones of the house of David.
|6||Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: *
“May they prosper who love you.
|7||Peace be within your walls *
and quietness within your towers.
|8||For my brethren and companions’ sake, *
I pray for your prosperity.
|9||Because of the house of the LORD our God, *
I will seek to do you good.”
I imagined Jesus and his parents ascending to Jerusalem three times a year for the great festivals, singing that same song. I imagined Jesus and his disciples, later, ascending to Jerusalem praying for its peace, Jesus knowing the turmoil that awaited him there. I prayed for the peace of Jerusalem and for all the people who gather there to worship and to live.
More later. Blessings – and pray for peace in this city and this world.