Tidings from Bethlehem Jan 2023
From the Pastor’s Desk
“Now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem…”
Jesus offers some sobering admonition in the 12 th chapter of Luke, “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required.” -Luke 12:48.
I have been extremely fortunate in my life. I really do feel as if much has been “given” to me. I grew up in an idyllic setting. I have been surrounded by wonderful people. And I have been afforded wonderful educational and vocational opportunities. Because of all the abundance, I live with the knowledge that “much is required.” Don’t worry, I realize my salvation does not depend upon my efforts, but in the hope of being faithful, I endeavor to take the “requirements” of faith seriously.
Why do I share this with you this month? Here’s why; this January I will have the awesome
privilege of returning to the Holy Land. I will be in Israel from January 3 rd through the 12 th , give or take a day. And I want you all to know that I will not be taking this opportunity lightly. Many of you know that I am absolutely enamored with the Biblical text. I study it, pray with it, and I continually contemplate the ways in which the Bible speaks to us and inspires our life together.
While I am in Israel, there will certainly be moments of rest and renewal (well, hopefully), but
there will be many more moments when I am making my way through the sacred landscape with my Bible in hand. I plan to connect the sacred geography with the treasured Biblical narrative. I will strive to soak up the atmosphere of the region and discern the ways in which the place brings to new life the text. It is my hope that my time in the Holy Land will infuse our moments of study with fresh insights.
It is my sincere prayer that my time in Israel will bring vitality and vibrancy to my preaching.
As I stand next to the foundation of the temple, I know that I am standing in a place where
countless children of God have articulated their most impassioned prayers. To pray in that spot is like joining a great chorus of hopeful expression that spans millennia. To kneel along the shores of Galilee, to reach down and grasp a handful of sand and to wonder; did Jesus walk here? Was it in this spot that Jesus called from his small boat and shared the content of the Good News? The breeze from the sea will brush past our cheeks and offer the slightest hint of the storms that rocked the boats of the disciples, but that gentle breeze will also be a reminder of the Spirit. The Spirit that descended upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan, is the same Spirit that has blessed us in our moments of baptism. It is the same Spirit that will inspire me to be thinking of you all when I am halfway around the world. Yes, I am being both serious and sincere.
I am so excited to go, and I am already excited to return; to receive and to share, that is the