Every month, we submit a collection of blogs round a typical subject. This month, Rev. Greg Klimovitz is curating a collection that includes those that made their pilgrimage to the Holy Land with NEXT Churchfrom Could 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 assert? How did you think about leaning into “God with Us” as you returned residence? We invite you to affix the dialog on Facebookand Twitter, whilst you make your personal pilgrimages this summer season and past. In any case, life is pilgrimage.
by Julia Watkins
With the solar already beating down, we pilgrims stepped out of the climatized consolation of our tour bus and onto the sacred hundred-acre floor the place the Nassar household has cultivated fruit bushes for the previous century. Referred to as the Tent of Nations, the land overlooks the walled-off metropolis of Bethlehem, the place Jesus was as soon as born into occupied rule. The entryway is surrounded by stones painted within the languages of many countries, which proclaim a central message: “WE REFUSE TO BE ENEMIES.” There, Daoud Nassar welcomed and shepherded us into the shady shelter of one of many property’s many caves.
The caves are among the many Nassars’ many artistic responses to 28 years of state-issued threats to confiscate the land they’ve lengthy known as residence. Perched on the one instant hilltop but unoccupied by Israeli settlers, Tent of Nations is prime actual property. If not for the household’s property deed and fixed land cultivation, the Israeli state would have claimed their acreage for settlement enlargement way back. Because it have been, the state has resorted to repeated disruption and intimidation ways. Authorities officers have eradicated entry to water and electrical energy, issued demolition orders for constructions present above floor, razed orchards, and obstructed the principle entry highway, all in an try and drive the Nassars from their land.
In response, the Nassars may need chosen to take revenge. They could have chosen to give up to despair. They could have chosen to hate. Most lately, authorities officers went as far as to supply the Nassars a clean test for his or her property. They could very simply have chosen to go away.
The Nassar household may need chosen to turn out to be victims, however that it not what they did. As a substitute, they selected a path of artistic, nonviolent resistance. They selected to navigate the courtroom system, even at nice private expense. They selected to put in photo voltaic panels, to gather rainwater, to make room in caves, and to accomplice with folks throughout variations to fill their demolished fields with bushes that can solely bear fruit with endurance and care.
If survival have been the aim, the Nassars’ chosen responses would make little sense. With settlement boundaries creeping ever nearer to their property, it’s laborious to think about the household will be capable to stay there ceaselessly. Finally, they — like so a lot of their neighbors — will likely be displaced.
However, the Nassars are usually not transferring within the course of survival. They’re taking one step at a time towards bringing the entryway stones’ central message to life. They’re refusing to be enemies, as an alternative, selecting a path that dignifies their persecutors in addition to their supporters all over the world. The Nassars are transferring within the course of life to the total, even when it prices them all the things they’ve.
As pilgrims on our journey towards wholeness, it’s tempting to measure our progress by how far we predict we have now come. We would look to details and figures to guarantee us we’re on the best path, and to a sure extent, these numbers matter. Once we look to the way forward for the church, it issues that there are folks within the pews. It issues that we meet our stewardship objectives. Much more, it issues that everybody has equal entry to housing, meals, healthcare, training, and sweetness. Nonetheless, if we place our hope in outcomes alone, we will likely be sure for bitterness and despair. On the finish of the day, there’ll at all times be extra work to do. On the trail to justice, we won’t discover our hope within the outcomes however within the resistance. When collectively we resist a story that ends in dying, we — just like the Nassar household — be part of our Risen Lord in life past measure.
Initially from Atlanta, Julia Watkins is delighted to have lately returned to the South, the place she at present serves as Pastoral Resident for Mission & Outreach at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.