So, in just a few hours, I head off to the airport to return home. My time in Israel has simply been amazing! I came here alone, not knowing a soul, and made a lot of great friends. I took no travel tours and managed to hike through the Old City and countless other biblical sites on my own (though, a new-found friend graciously helped me with transport from time-to-time). I navigated the bus routes and shops, studied Greek like never before and experienced the Holy Land in so many special ways. The mixture of rich cultural and topographical landscapes here in Israel has enriched my life.
Tonight, I watched the sunset just a few feet up from the barbwire fence that separates the West Bank from Jerusalem. The irony is that while I stood there in that place denoting such a historical divide, I was also watching the sunset behind Bethlehem. Even more, I was standing in the very field where the shepherds were keeping the flocks by night during Jesus' birth. It was here where the angels proclaimed "Glory to God in the highest and upon the earth peace to all people by God's good will." Even though the sun will continue to set behind Jerusalem until the return of our Lord, the fact is, the sun will never set upon either the peace of God or the good will of God that comes to humanity through Jesus Christ.
So, as I prepare to leave this place, I am thinking on these things! As the sun sets wherever you live, perhaps you can think on these things as well. Take a look at the images below, on the first one, look close to the left side, perhaps you notice the fenced in road that starts near the bottom of the page and follows the foot of the mountain around; that's what separates Jerusalem from the West Bank. Then, take a look at the glow of the sun. Try to imagine what took place here on the night of Jesus' birth thousands of years ago and let the peace that he brought really, truly sink deeply in to your soul. And then let the call to follow the Prince of Peace, the one who brought peace without violence, renew your thought and spirit! Amen and amen!