We start early for our travelling worship service. Our worship experience begins with Prayer and Study as we visit the Western Wall and take time to pray.
We even sang a hymn on the street corner while we waited for our bus to pick us up for our next stop.
It’s time for some teaching … where else, but the Teaching Steps. This is the place where Jesus would have taught on a daily basis (Luke 21:1-4; 37-38 NIV).
This is where Peter would have preached on Pentecost. We paused here to listen again to the stories of Jesus.
Years ago Neil Armstrong (a Purdue Grad) visited these Steps and said, “I am more excited stepping on these stones than I was stepping on the moon.” After today, we can understand his feelings.
After Lunch in Jericho – yes that Jericho – where the walls tumbled … Wee little Zacchaeus climbed a tree … in this place our worship continued.
We visited the place in the wilderness where the River Jordan flows – a place where John the Baptist would have come and where Jesus was baptized.
John was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. Mark 1:4-5
People from everywhere came to John. Why? What must that have been like? Were there people are everywhere? How many different dialects were being spoken? Was the crowd that came to John made up of people of all colors and nations?
And perhaps the crowd today resembled the crowds that John witnessed. And perhaps the desire to be like Christ is played out in a place that allows one to do something Christ did in the water of the Land that Christ walked.
I began to teach (okay I was preaching) to our group about the value of Baptism and the importance of remembering our baptisms as a covenant with God. We baptized one of our travelers for the first time at the age of 70. And people from all over were watching and listening. We encountered groups from Japan, France, Philippines, Korea, Brasil, Italy, India, Mexico, Croatia, Greece, and Germany to name just a few. They are Orthodox, Methodist, Christian, Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, you name it.
Then it got interesting because while they are from all over the world – they are there for the same reasons. That would explain the group of adults from France who are Catholic asking an American Methodist Pastor to bless them with the water of Jordan.
So I did one after another after another … merci beaucoup … and an embrace.
We are one.
I hope that in some way I capture the feeling of John the Baptist as people came from all over to be baptized. It was truly humbling and amazing!
We then journeyed thru Jericho and headed back to Jerusalem. We stopped and viewed the area that is traditionally the place of the 40 Days of Temptation and hit the Jericho Road. We had one last stop – the Judean Wilderness.
This wilderness is nothing like you have ever seen. The Jericho Road lays at the bottom of these rocky hills and provides some relief as their is a stream that runs at the bottom providing water, but the rest is filled with treachery.
To speak of wandering in the wilderness means hardship, loneliness, and death.
You can’t help but look out on this space and wonder what wilderness of life has taken precedence in your life … oh and that was the same thing a few other groups were pondering on the hillside – they weren’t from America either, but we didn’t bother asking where they were from … we knew it was more important that we were all trying to get to the same place – a deeper understanding of a life with Jesus and an escape from our own wanderings in the wilderness of life.
At the end of this Sunday … we have a better understanding that we are loved by God … after all we have the life of Jesus to prove it. So we leave our Sunday knowing that our Faith Matters – now and forever.
Tomorrow – A visit to Bethany, the shepherd’s fields in Bethlehem, and the Upper Room.