Tuesday morning early I am heading east.
East as in, the Middle East.
I expect to arrive in Israel early Wednesday morning. Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
I am getting excited about it finally.
I'm going to be attending a conference called Christ at the Checkpoint. A conference put on by Bethlehem Bible College.
The mission of Christ at the Checkpoint is to Challenge Evangelicals To Take Responsibility To Help Resolve the Conflicts in Israel-Palestine By Engaging With the Teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.
To that end there will be some great speakers from around the world, workshops, meals in Palestinian homes, conversation and connection. I was asked to go as part of a small group of four from our conference of churches here in Canada.
We will also connect with different missions groups there. Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem are on the agenda, and we'll get to the Sea of Galilee, and some other local places. It will be good.
This is my first trip to this place. A place I've read about and studied for many years. It's the place where the Christ, who is Jesus, was born, lived, died, and came back to life again. It has been such a big part of my life for 50 years, that my biggest concern is that there will be an ongoing reconciliation process happening in my head. That the sites I see will be so different from the images I have in my head from these years of thinking about them.
Resolving what I see with my eyes with what's in my head, as a constant ongoing process.
I'm nervous about keeping up with that.
But interestingly, the overwhelming feeling I have is the feeling where I am travelling to see where a good friend or family member grew up, and I've never seen their place before. Like Jesus is excited to show me where he grew up and played and worked and lived, and that he can't wait to show it to me. That's what I'm feeling. That I'm going to see all these places my friend has told me about, and he's excited to show me.
Honestly I never expected to feel that way.
It's kind of odd, but really fun too.
That patch of land has seen so much bloodshed over the years, and continues to see political agenda cause pain and suffering to this day. I am going to be witness of it, and to let it shape me and my work even miles away.
So if you're a praying person, can you remember me Tuesday?
And then as I land on Ash Wednesday early, I'm looking forward to starting Lent in that place they call the Holy Land.