Israel Update #4
Today (Thursday) was our first day in the old city. Wow. It was amazing, tiring, and confusing. To step in the old city is like stepping into a time warp and jumping to one of the more exotic places you've dreamt about. Winding stone streets that are more like sidewalks (about 10 feet wide) with tapestries and colorful scarves hanging everywhere from all the shops. It's hard to explain and my iPhone pics don't capture it. But it was super cool -- except for the constant fear of getting lost.
Instead, the pic is from the Western Wall. Standing there is religiously confusing. Here you are at a place where God very clearly put down his roots (roots I've spent two weeks studying) and yet you are watching people worship a God you do not know. Is that possible? My series on Matthew 21-25 was spinning in my head where we saw Jesus pronounce a judgment the place in this photo and take the presence of God away from it. The building that stood here became desolate, and now it is literally so (this wall is really just the western foundation stones). There is a masque above this wall and I kept asking myself if the Jews and the Muslims were the same amount of "wrong." Romans 4 & 11 makes me think they are not the same but they are both worshiping counterfeit versions of the truth. One thing is for sure, we've been studying very appropriate passages to prepare me for this trip.
In the midst of all that confusing cloud, I praised the One True God that he does not dwell in such places and that my mediator is the Christ and not a Wall. I don't mean to be crass, that was just my impression.
A highlight today was visiting the place where tradition says Jesus prayed in Gethsamane. What he went through even beyond just the cross! And that was a place where the church that could easily obstruct the location actually enhanced it.
By the way... I've been sleeping great. Thank you for your prayers. I've also been eating like it's my job! I'm very thankful for God's very gentle and personal provisions for me on this trip.
Anyway, I hope you are all doing well. I'm ready to be home and back with my girls and all of you. We leave Saturday evening and arrive in Tulsa on Sunday evening. Lord willing I will be at the Christmas Eve service before going back to Tulsa for surgery.
In him. -reed