Israel during Lent – Day 7 from Jeff

Day 7. Talk About Intense! The Temple Mount !  It is controlled by the Palestinian Authority with a huge Mosque and Giant Muslim Shrine of Gold on it!   Herod’s temple was twice as high as the Dome. Incredible! Before Jesus showed up, individual people were valued only insofar as they were of value to the rich and powerful.  Think of all the miserable slave labor that went into Herod’s ego building.  The poor were nobodies. But Jesus introduced something completely new . . . . the intrinsic value of every person regardless of status, race, and ethnicity.  He “named” people by noticing them.  A paralytic, a blind man, a rich tax collector, an ostracized woman, the list goes on! Like wow!  That was brand new on scene of humanity on earth and it endures today as not only a Christian value but a western one as well.  The Via Delarosa:  the path Jesus walked carrying at least part of the cross on which he would be crucified. It was a long walk! Jesus had chutzpah, guts, courage. It must have been beyond brutal.  As we walked where he walked, at least approximately, we were bombarded by bling, clothes, trinkets, souvenirs, soooo much stuff.  Trying to feel, think about, experience, contemplate God Himself, about to be crucified for us one minute while the next minute wondering what kind of gift to buy for a family member was awful.  But maybe it wasn’t.  Maybe that picture is exactly the picture we need to see. It is the picture of a humanity distracted by the idols of materialism which have enchanted and enslaved us, an enslavement that can only be broken by the agony of the cross.   Church of the Holy Sepulcher:   Built at the instruction of Emperor Constantine’s mom in the 4th century right over top of both Golgotha and Jesus’ Burial tomb (exact locations are educated guesses). Some of us touched the stone on which Jesus may have been prepped for burial.  Sometimes acts of veneration can be spiritually legit without being idolatrous Many groups sang from the altar of a 12th century church built by the crusaders we sang “lord prepare me to be a sanctuary”.  Other songs in many languages. Chills! Together yet-separate.  A Christian enclave in the midst of Muslim territory, real cool.  Yad Vashem.  Isaiah 56:5. The Holocaust Museum. A magnificent attempt to remember every name of every one of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis.   Let no one ever fall victim to the sanctimony that allows one to think that one is not capable, in some way, shape or form, of the same horror that the Nazis perpetrated.  Mother Theresa said, “There’s a little Hitler in each of us”.  G.K. Chesterton in response to a newspaper asking what’s wrong with the world answered, “Dear Sirs, I am”.  The Christian who can give the same answer to the same question has come far in the a Christian life.  It’s the answer that explains the cross.  It’s the answer that elevates forgiveness as the Christian response to conflict, it’s the response that cuts through the death dealing pride that says I could never have been one of those Nazis.  Vad Yashem is more than Isaiah 56:5. It’s a monument to humanity’s incapacity to rescue ourselves.  Revenge,retaliation, and violence, humanity’s default reactions to wrongs never bring peace.  I liked a quote from inside the museum that read,”Better to save a Jew than to kill a German”. It’s not all the way there, but it’s a start.
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