Israel Up Close
American tourists flock to “the Holy Land” every year, and many find it revitalizes their religious faith. But sorting out the “truth” about Israel today is complex and heartwrenching. It is easy to end up on a group religious pilgrimage that focuses only on the past and little on the present. It’s even easier to find a group that filters the present through a prescribed lens — usually pro-Israel/anti-Palestine, though it doesn’t take much searching to find the opposite.
Pilgrim member Nate Stumme traveled recently to Israel with his brother to see the sites, but also with eyes open to understand better the present situation for Israelis and Palestinians. Pilgrim Church has held Nate in our prayers given the recent unrest. With Nate’s permission, we post here a brief email of his early experience; may it bring the realities of a faraway place up close to you, and perhaps give rise to your own questions, wonderings, and prayers:
Having a terrific time in Israel! Words fall short, even for an English major with a decent imagination. The Old City of Jerusalem is a magical place where the Spirit moves you like a carnival ride. The Mt. Of Olives, Garden of Gethsemene, Via Dolorosa, and Church of the Holy Sepulchre do not disappoint. There is plenty to keep it real- after ascending to the top of the Mt. Of Olives, we saw a group of Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian kid at gunpoint, and I’m talking about 6-7 automatic rifles. Took a full day tour over to Qumran, Jericho, Masada, and the Dead Sea- great view of the Kingdom of Jordan across the sea. I would not last 4 minutes in the Judean Desert, let alone 40 days and nights. Tomorrow we will worship at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, a gorgeous place. Please keep me in your prayers.