Pilgrimage is Dealing with Concern – NEXT Church

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Every month, we submit a collection of blogs round a typical matter. This month, Rev. Greg Klimovitz is curating a collection that includes those that made their pilgrimage to the Holy Land with NEXT Churchfrom Might 19-27, 2019. A lot of the biblical story, particularly the narratives that encompass the work and witness of Jesus, occurred en route someplace and in a context of political occupation, social, ethnic, and financial divisions, and battle with spiritual and political powers that be. This month, contributors will ponder “pilgrimage is…” as they ponder: the place did you sense “God with us?” The place was “God with Us” harder to say? How did you think about leaning into “God with Us” as you returned house? We invite you to hitch the dialog on Facebookand Twitter, whilst you make your personal pilgrimages this summer time and past. In any case, life is pilgrimage. 

by Frank Spencer

As I approached the checkpoint for the primary time, I may really feel my anxiousness rising. The uniformed guard mentioned, “Passport.” Not as a query, not as an invite, however slightly as a requirement for me to move unhurt. It’s laborious to tamp down the concern as one approaches an armed consultant of a authorities which isn’t one’s personal, in a spot the place all the foundations are usually not clear nor equally enforced. As I moved past the checkpoint, I may really feel my anxiousness ebb. The second of concern had given approach to encounters with new acquaintances that might show full of excellent will. I might move by means of Checkpoint Charlie between East and West Berlin 5 extra instances earlier than the wall fell in 1989.

Picture: Greg Klimovitz

The wall that divides Bethlehem from Jerusalem and surrounding areas seems strikingly like that earlier wall that had so terrified me. It’s twenty-five toes of vertical concrete topped with razor wire. Occasionally, a watchtower looms with armed guards protected against view, however not from seeing. On the Bethlehem aspect are intricate, amusing, and generally profane graffiti work. The west aspect of the Berlin Wall was likewise adorned.

The Israeli checkpoints have the identical really feel as their Chilly Conflict antecedents: younger army guards with automated weapons. As you strategy, you hope they’re busy or bored and never feeling aggressive or confrontational. The latter is at all times a threat as analysis reveals that merely the presence of weapons considerably will increase aggressive cognition, hostile value determinations, and aggressive conduct.[i]

The Israeli settlements within the West Financial institution even have checkpoints. They weren’t as I had pictured them. By some means my thoughts had constructed a picture of single story houses on small heaps with communal agricultural house. Maybe I had melded the thought of kibbutz and settlement. In distinction to that bucolic misrepresentation, they’re extraordinarily dense, city populations as much as 60,000 folks with faculties, companies, and public areas. They’ll operate as suburbs with commuters driving to work in bigger cities. Like Bethlehem, they’ve fortified perimeters made principally of fencing with barbed wire. Any entry requires scrutiny on the army checkpoints. Not like Bethlehem, they don’t seem to be making an attempt to maintain the inhabitants in, however to maintain a perceived risk out.

The frequent aspect on either side of those obstacles is concern.

In Jaffa, the seaside suburb of Tel Aviv, there exists a putting distinction to the West Financial institution. We American Christians strolled the promenade with a mass of humanity that clearly included Arab Muslims; Arab Christians; and Liberal, Conservative, and Orthodox Jews. Nobody appeared threatened or fearful. A marriage reception was starting in one of many native institutions. {Couples} strolled the seashore within the fading gentle. There have been no checkpoints to navigate, no fences to separate, and no weapons to brandish.
Israel/Palestine is a sophisticated place with profound geo-political implications. After having spent solely every week assembly folks and encountering many contrasting concepts and views, I might not presume to supply any answer to the present political downside. However it’s a political downside. Leaders on both sides demonize the opposite and ascribe the worst intent, usually inciting violence from their constituents.

What I can say is that this, partitions and fences guarded by armed troopers have by no means created peace. At instances, it might create the phantasm of safety for one aspect, however that safety is a falsehood. Partitions and fences can’t preserve out resentment of these on the aspect of much less energy any greater than they’ll preserve within the fears of those supposedly protected. The narratives concerning the enemy on the opposite aspect of the barrier develop and are expanded with every era that lives unnaturally divided.

Maybe what Christianity has to supply to the peace course of is that this: we imagine in a God whose reconciling motion with humankind was to simply accept full vulnerability and “transfer into the neighborhood.”[ii]

When folks construct relationships by means of private engagement, hate and concern are inclined to dissipate. Our commonality as kids of God is extra profound than our superficial variations. Partaking the faces of our concern is maybe the one approach to face that concern.

[i] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1088868317725419
[ii]Eugene Peterson, The Message.


Rev. Frank Spencer is the President of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He has served as an elder and deacon and taught Sunday college to adults and youngsters. He was Chairman of the Board of Administrators for the Montreat Convention Middle and a member of the NEXT Church Technique Staff. His house church is Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, the place he was ordained by the Presbytery of Charlotte. You may be taught extra about Frank on the Board of Pensions web site.



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