Monday, December 1, 2014
the stones cry out
It has been exactly one month since we have returned home from Israel. In that time I have had the privilege of sharing my experiences and showing my pictures to several different groups in a variety of settings that include church, school, family, friends. But I have yet to blog much about it - other than just posting a few pictures here and there. So after having time to ponder and reflect on all that I was blessed to encounter during the last two weeks of October, I think I'm finally ready to get some of this out of my head and onto my blog.
What a great blessing it was to experience this trip with my dad. He turned 77 years young the day that we landed in Tel Aviv, and that evening we were able to have a nice party for him at our hotel. Many who were along with us on the tour marveled at his health and stamina - especially after the 8 miles we hiked at Petra! He did very well and was really engaged with everything during the trip.
We were able to share some very special and memorable experiences together, and for that I am very grateful.
"It all really happened. It's all really true. And it all really happened for me and for you."
That's how I started my chapel message at Calvary Lutheran High in Jeff City two days after I got back. There were so many things swirling around in my head that I wanted to share with the students, but the most important thing was that it was all true. Everything their pastor had preached about, everything their teachers had taught them, everything they learned about Jesus and the Bible in Sunday School - it was all true. It really happened. The stones do still cry out - and they're just waiting there in the Holy Land to be discovered by all those who have ears to hear. The land of Israel is a living, breathing testimony to the truth found in the words of Holy Scripture. We don't need it to prove that our faith is sure or that the Bible is true - but it sure is nice to have.
My trip to Israel was even better than I expected. And believe me - I was expecting a lot. It made me realize how little I actually know, even after being a pastor for 10 years and a church worker for more than 20. There is just SO much to learn. And this trip has instilled in me an even greater desire to "read, mark, and inwardly digest" the words of Holy Scripture, and delve deeper into the people, places, and cultures we were privileged to visit.
As we enter into the Advent season, I will be sharing some thoughts about Nazareth and Bethlehem that coincide with our Advent/Christmas theme this year at church. Our theme is "From Nazareth to Bethlehem - The Journey from Advent to Christmas."