July 20, 2011
Lisa and I are looking forward to our trip together to the Holy Land. I have been holding all of you in prayer as we prepare for this pilgrimage.
I received some great advice before my first trip to the Holy Land I’ll share with you now. We’ll be visiting lots of “holy places,” sites associated with events in the life of Christ, key biblical scenes, places venerated by Christians, Muslims and Jews throughout millennia. It is virtually impossible to determine the precise location or original shape of many (though not all) of these places, but as a wise friend said to me, “Don’t worry about it too much … If not here, it was someplace close!”
The point of a pilgrimage from a Christian perspective is not primarily to touch this or that holy stone, or venerate a particular building or pray somewhere that puts us somehow more directly in touch with God. The psalms are right, there is nowhere we can flee from God’s presence and every place can be the gate to heaven. We make a pilgrimage to be intentional about discovering or rediscovering the truth of that. It’s like the Eucharist — the bread and wine on the altar reveal the holiness of the daily bread that sustains us all, the sanctity of all human sharing.
I am eager to be with you in Jerusalem. May God bless us and make our hearts glad.