Friday, February 1, 2019

From The Jordan River To Jerusalem

Today, our mountain sky pilgrims reaffirmed their baptisms in the Jordan River, then went to Jericho to the place where Jesus was tempted before heading to Jerusalem where they paused for prayer at the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane. 

Rev. Tiffany Keith, Colorado Springs, CO:


How many hands does it take to polish a rock? No machines. No sand paper. No water. No tools. Just a simple touch. 

Last year when we were here we couldn’t get to the rock that church tradition says Jesus prayed for God to take the cross from him. (Found in Luke 22). So, this time was my first time to bend down, reach my hand over the metal thorns guarding the rock...

And it was smooth. 

Not the entire rock. Just the edges where people can reach. 

How many touches does it take to polish a rock? 

How many years?

Bend. Touch. Pray. Bend. Touch. Pray. Bend. Touch. Pray. Day after day. Year after year. Decade after decade. Century after century. Millennium after millennium. Hand after hand. 

I thought of all of those hands. All of the prayers they represent. 

And then I thought of all the other smooth stones I’ve seen this trip. The feet and hands that have smoothed them out. 

And I wonder how much smoother they will get. The prayers that will touch them. And I experience a glimpse of paradox of time. The touches that were. That are. That will be. 

And of course the power of touch to polish the hardest of stone. 

Reflections on our day, from Calvin Mukarakate, Green Mountain UMC, Liz Smith, Boulder, CO, and Marco López and Rev. Tracy Hausman, Park City UMC, Utah:

Tom Kremer, Gillette UMC, Wyoming:

Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed before being betrayed. 

Rev. Dr. Youngsook Kang, Director of Connectional Ministries and Superintendent of Leadership Development:

Radical hospitality by a local restaurant in Jericho:

Rev. AJ Bush, Gillette UMC, Wyoming:

Last year I had the opportunity to travel to Jerusalem as part of a group of newly ordained clergy. When I left for that trip last February, I had no idea I would be coming back to Jerusalem just a year later. In fact, it almost seemed excessive to come again so soon. However, my experience this year has been completely different than last year. Yes, we are going to the same sites. Yes, we are doing mostly the same things. However, I am experiencing them differently. I am a different person than I was a year ago. I have different things on my heart. My life is in a different space, my heart is in a difference space, and so I am experiening each place differently. For example, places last year that were unmemorable have been deeply moving, while  other places that were moving last year have been less so this year. Each day I encounter God’s presence in new and different ways, and God is speaking to me in different places and different spaces this time around. 

While I hadn’t expected this, it’s the same with scripture, you know. Even though some of the scripture stories might be familiar to us, each time we read them we experience them afresh. One story that didn’t mean much in your life last year, might mean a lot this year, and another story might be exactly what you needed to hear in that moment, even though you’ve read it 100 times. God has the ability to speak to us anew each time we encounter God, each time we read scripture, each time we come to pray. So now, I hope I can come back to Jerusalem every year! But if not, I know I can always open the scriptures and find God afresh in my life. 

Bishop Karen:

Deanna Hanna, Green Mountain UMC, CO:

Pictures from The Jordan River where we reaffirmed our baptisms:

Other scenes from our day:

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