The day after the consecration liturgy was filled with official and non-official events. We said goodbye to many international visitors and also gathered for a press event where Bishop Ibrahim Azar laid out his vision for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land focusing on leadership, spirituality, and connection to congregations. I certainly resonated with those themes as they have been mine through the 18 months I have served this call.
After the official events I connected with my parents and their guide and we journeyed through Jerusalem, the government area, Yad Vashem, and ultimately back onto the freeway south. Our destination was the “Tent of Nations” http://www.tentofnations.org/ whose leaders had visited congregations in NT-NL and also at Gethsemane, Austin where my father serves. This farm has held out against pressure to be overtaken by settlers from Israel into the West Bank area. In so doing they have pledged “not to be enemies.” But to work constructively towards a peaceful solution. It was a visit of amazing views, powerful witness, and also stunning reality.
We then traveled to Bethlehem so my folks could visit Christmas Lutheran Church, Church of the Nativity and Shepherd’s Field. We paid homage to the Star of Bethlehem, took a picture in front of the Manger Square Christmas Tree, and sang “Angel’s We Have Heard On High” in the chapel at Shepherd’s Field (incredible acoustics). Then we visited a souvenir shop literally in the shadow of the separation wall.
It was a day of extremes. Amazing heritage and faith, hope and promise, challenge and separation. Worship in Beit Sahour tomorrow followed by visits to local church members. My folks leave in 24 hours. Then we have visits and then head to Jordan. Grateful to be here in this holy place and that my 9 yr olds basketball team won their game today despite only having 5 players. #EtInTerraPaxHominibus #MyTeamIsOnTheFloor #NTNL #ELCJHL#InMissionTogether