Connecting Israel Palestine – and ‘home’

My-Church contributor Jonathan Kerry has recently been on pilgrimage to Israel Palestine with the Leicester Diocese – this is one of his blog posts

Connecting

Tucked away in the foothills of Mount Hermon is the site of the Biblical City of Dan, where Jeroboam set up an image of a golden calf and constructed a temple (larger than Leicester Cathedral) where sacrifices took place.  You can read about it in I Kings 12; all this happened about 3,000 years ago.

So today we stood on the amazingly well-preserved site of those ancient, heretical religious rituals.  Actually it’s quite a good place to worship God, because just a few yards away is the spring of Dan which supplies one fifth of all the fresh water in the Holy Land.  In a region where water is so much needed (and still fought over in our own lifetimes), this is certainly a spot to recall our ultimate dependence on God’s gracious provision and to make connections with generations long ago who recognised this in their own way.

Of course, it wasn’t just religious fervour that motivated Jeroboam to place an altar here – politics were part of the mix, too.  This temple, and a similar one at Bethel, was designed to divert the devout from making pilgrimage to Jerusalem, stronghold of a rival kingdom from which the northern tribes of Israel had seceded.

So our pilgrimage today cannot be a purely ‘spiritual’ journey, as if it were ever possible to divorce the things of God from the material, social and political.  If we have learnt anything during these days, it is that the ‘Holy’ Land is as much a place where you encounter politics as you encounter God.  Back home in Leicester, the challenge will be to earth that lesson in the practice of our faith week by week and to discover the holy in the streets of our city, towns and villages – not just in churches and ‘religious’ activity, but in bringing good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed in our communities, while we continue to hold the people of Israel-Palestine in our thoughts and prayers.

Jonathan Kerry

To learn more about the pilgrimage visit http://footstepspilgrimage.tumblr.com

The Archdeacon of Leicester, Tim Stratford, visited Jersualem in March 2014 with a group of Christians and Muslims and produced a blog