Feb 5, 2011

From Hebron, Israel-Hope and Incredulity


Reading Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
as we prepared to take Communion with our
Israeli and Palestinian brothers in the Holy Land.

It has been quite an incredible week here in Israel.  We have met with so many amazing leaders, both Christian and non Christian as we try to understand the complexity of their leadership context.  We also visited so many historical sites of great significance for the three faiths Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  

There is so much to reflect on that I hardly know where to begin.  I have a couple articles to write for the Chanhassen Villager and the Chaska Herald Newspapers due this coming Friday.  I am hoping that as I travel back home, I will get some thoughts together around key issues of faith that I have encountered throughout my travels here in the Holy Land. 


Abraham's Tomb inside the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

For now, I feel a sense of brokenness and sadness. Echstasy of walking on the holy historical stones is tempered by a sense of sadness as I reflect on the pain of the living stones in the land.  Nothing captures this sense more than my visit to the city of Hebron earlier today where the tombs of both the Israeli and Arab Patriachs, Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebecca are located. 


The holy site is divided into two sections with one side serving as a mosque and the other as a synagogue.  The two communities are forbiden from crossing into the other's section. The soldiers are everywhere with guns at the ready in this divided city.  All over the roof tops you can see Israeli soldiers scattered.  

Isaac and Rebecca's Tombs stand side by side
inside the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Jews are
not allowed this side of the building. They can
only view Abraham and Sarah's tombs that lie in the
middle from the Synagogue side 
Here, pain is visible in faces on both sides of the divide. "My business is dead.  I cannot get customers to visit my shop as it is on the other side of the security fence. I have no way of doing my work to earn a living under this occupation," laments one Palestinian young man as we walk down the street toward the Ibrahimi mosque that houses the tombs. 

"I envy you that you can visit the tombs of our Patriachs Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebeccah.  I live here, yet I have never seen them.  Don't I have the right to see them too?  They are my ancestors.  Don't I have the right to visit the place where my Great, Great, Great Parents are burried?" laments a Jewish teenager with visible pain and longing in his eyes as we chat away near the entrance to the Synagogue, where we are watched by a band of seven soldiers in a jeep about ten feet away.  


There is Hope in the Land. Rabbis for Human rights
is an organization of Rabbis working to ensure justice
prevails for both peoples, Jews and Palestinians.

Madness is tangible in the very bricks that form the habitation of the residents.  At the bottom of the houses are Palestinians.  And then on the top floors of residential building the Israelis have build their homes.  Yet the two never meet.  Some of those living on the top floors throw their trash below and don't care where it lands.  An unbelievable place to walk. 



Why such hatred and seperation between brothers?  Why so much incredulity?  Why the contradiction in Abrahams' seed?   Why so much darkness in a place with so great light?  Even the eternal Light, Jesus Christ? 

Charles Dickens, had he walked these streets and observed these contraditions would probably have written:  "It was the best of places, it was the worst of places, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us we had nothing before us we were all going directly to Heaven we were all going the other way." 

But now faith, hope, love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love! 

Thank God Christ is not in a Tomb to fight over. 
He is Risen! Pic at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
 
I just got done with all the research related meetings. So I am glad to begin packing and preparing to get on the flight Monday morning. I wish it was a little earlier so I can watch the Green Bay Packers win the Superbowl (Go Packers, Go!!).

For now I will have to be content with being here in this amazing place.  I am joining with believers here in Bethlehem tomorrow morning at Emmanuel Evangelical Church. They have about 200 believers. Pray that as opportunity avails, I will be truly encouraging to them. They are living out for Jesus in an extremely difficult environment.

Good day and Good Night from Hebron, Israel!

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