Today’s Word from Pastor Jim… 

This tiny strip of land connecting three continents has been the site of war and conquest throughout human history. It is the place of great battles, the Pharaohs of Egypt sent chariots to conquer it, Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, the Babylonians took the children of Israel into captivity, the armies of Alexander the Great sought to occupy it, the Romans ruled Palestine with the sword. The Mamluks, Muslims and Crusaders claimed it as their own, Suleiman the Magnificent was the Sultan of Jerusalem, Napoleon laid siege to the Holy Land, the British and Germans did battle during World War 1 in Palestine. The prophetic writings in the Bible speak of the final battle, Armageddon. The word Armageddon comes from the Hebrew name Har Megiddo. Har Megiddo, the mount of Megiddo looks out on the peaceful Armageddon valley, the historical site of Israel’s great battles.

This tiny strip of land, the size of New Jersey, has rarely experienced peace. It is heartbreaking to see the images of war and destruction once again in a land that I have come to love. Some the very best memories of my personal and professional life find their genesis in Israel and Palestine. I have had the distinct privilege of journeying to this Holy Land on 15 occasions. I have shared this pilgrimage with the young and old of Trinity, with friends from across the country, with my precious daughters and wife. There are many things that I could say about this tragic, reoccurring story but I am not sure that my commentary would be helpful. I will say that we have no idea what it is like to live in a neighborhood where we are hated, with neighbors who desire our destruction, with the constant threat of war on our borders. I will say that we have no idea what it is to live under the iron fist of the government of Israel. From the comfort and safety of our North American homes our opinions are lacking context and historical perspective. With concentrated study we may come to some comprehension of the complicated realities of the current struggle, but we will never be able to grasp the brutal circumstances that have faced generations of Israelis and Palestinians.

So where does this leave me? Heartbroken. Heartbroken for the friends that I have made over decades in Israel and Palestine. Heartbroken for tour guides, shop owners, bus drivers, restaurant owners, olive wood craftsmen and hotel workers. Heartbroken knowing that the violence of today will sow the seeds of a violent future. Heartbroken and impotent. The truth is, there is nothing that I can do that will have any effect on the problems in the Middle East. Of course, we should pray for peace, we should send financial humanitarian assistance to those caught in the crosshairs of war, we should encourage our government to work for peace. But in the end, we are mostly impotent to change the course of events halfway around the world in a land and culture that is foreign to us. Heartbroken and impotent we could be driven to despair by the realities in Israel, Palestine, Haiti, Yemen, North Korea, and Ukraine. But perhaps that impotence could inspire us to engage more fully in the places where we can make a difference every day. Could coming to peace with the limits of our human influence help us to embrace our own neighbors? By claiming our impotence, could we be empowered to love, to work for peace and justice at home?

Will a tiny strip of land that connects three continents find peace in our lifetime? Say your prayers, support humanitarian efforts, and then get to work where God has placed you in life.

One heartbroken beggar telling another where to find bread, I am your

Pastor Jim

Contact Pastor Jim if you have questions at [email protected]