by Fred & Gloria Strickert
We are sitting in the waiting lounge at Ben Gurion airport with a few minutes to catch our breath before our departure as we head on our way.
Catching our breath after another event-filled few weeks commemorating Christmas in the Holy Land, a time also filled with a range of emotions, worshipping in solemn candlelight, celebrating together at joyful Christmas parties, and sad, teary-eyed goodbyes.
Catching our breath after two and a half years of meaningful service accompanying the local Christians and ministering to others who are sojourning here in various capacities from short-term assignments, volunteer work, and study, to pilgrims and tourists who touch down for a brief moment and who then go on their ways. It seems like we just arrived yesterday, but we hit the ground running and have been sprinting through our days here. And it's come to an end much too quickly.
Today is December 28, Holy Innocents Day on our calendars--the day commemorating the deaths of the children in Bethlehem when self-centered rulers demonstrated their lack of tolerance and their exclusivistic world view, while Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus were forced to flee Bethlehem and to go on their way.
The Evangelist Matthew made a connection with the biblical matriarch Rachel, described as weeping for her children--Rachel who, on the way to Bethlehem, died in childbirth and was buried on the way (how odd that the Genesis writer mentioned twice that she was on the way).
Fred's 2007 book--Liturgical Press
- as Rachel is introduced at the well near Haran, the meeting place for people on the way;
- as Rachel is on the way to marriage;
- as Rachel is on the way to children;
- as Rachel is on the way to the land:
- as Rachel dies on the way to Bethlehem; and
- as Rachel is buried on the way.
So here we are in the early morning hours of December 28 pausing to reflect as we go on our way.
And we find ourselves thinking less about where we are going than about those we leave behind in Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Jerusalem. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Pray for the Christians who continue steadfast in their faith and witness.
Thank you for sharing with us in our Walk in Jerusalem--even though it did seem more like running. Thank you for taking time to read our stories about life in this place as we have had the privilege of being in accompaniment with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
And now they're calling our flight. We're on our way. . .
Fred & Gloria Strickert