Thursday, January 24, 2008

Weeping over Jerusalem

It is special to get to be in Jerusalem, but it often leaves me sad. First, just the history of conquests (so many in the name of some religion) and the centuries of rebuilding and more destruction and more rebuilding leave you wondering about all the violence and hatred people are capable of. And then there's the ever-present tension of all the faiths wanting the hottest real estate in religion, the temple mount. Finally, there also something about the sadness in the people of the streets that just kind of soaks in.

So, by the time we got to the Dominus Flavit Church on the Mount of Olives, I was more in the mind frame for the place than I realized. The Church, built in the shape of a teardrop, signifies Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. The reading was from Matthew 23 where Jesus said, "Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I wanted to gather your children as a hen gathers her young under her wings. But you would not."

Maybe I was just tired from all the walking we did today. But as we left there and walked down by the Garden of Gethsemane to the Church of the Agony (supposedly at the place where Jesus prayed and was arrested), I just wanted a Redeemer to show up and remove the sadness of the place. And believe me, I was longing for the kind of redeemer Judas was most likely hoping Jesus would turn out to be: a redeemer who was ready to use power and might to whip the place into shape.

Sometimes when you feel some of the brokenness of the world, you simply want it fixed. You don't want a plan, or good intentions, or promises, or a chance to demonstrate your faith. You just want the sick made well, and the lonely to laugh out the cackel of companionship. You want shalom delivered on a silver platter.

But it sure doesn't happen that way. Jesus walks the way of suffering and turns and asks "When are you going to figure it out?" (I think that quote is in there somewhere!:) And that's what I was feeling in the church of tears today.

What revived me for the rest of the pilgrimage, you ask? Surely you asked... A young woman, dressed in garments that indicated she was probably a novitiate for the Carmelite nuns, sat quietly in prayer throughout our time there. There it was, a juxtoposition of chaos and grace.
Down the hillside it dawned on me, I had the chaos, thinking about the chaotic evil of the world, and she had the grace, calmly placing life under God's control. I remembered a verse learned in childhood and suddenly realized for the first time that it has a much broader band of application: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Such is life in the hands of God.

1 comment:

Rev. Jean said...

Thank you for sharing your journey. For some of us this is the only way we know the Holy Land.