Sunday, May 22, 2011

Still here on May 22
by Fred & Gloria Strickert

It's May 22 and we're still here!

Not that we expected to go anywhere. 
But the May 21 Judgement Day Campaign apparently fizzled out.

Perhaps you've
seen signs like this in your neighborhood, except in English.

An American from Boulder, Colorado, Mr. Harold Camping of had predicted May 21 as Judgement Day --supposedly when God's elect would be raptured up into heaven as a prelude before the great tribulation & the end of the world.

Well, we didn't make the cut.
We're still here.
And we had church today as usual.
All present and accounted for.

We were expecting to have front row seats.  On Friday night Mr. Camping appeared on al-Jazeera TV to announce that a great earthquake would occur right here in Jerusalem splitting the Mount of Olives in half, and bringing to life the dead buried here.  So we stayed home Saturday and kept our camera close at hand, but nothing happened.  Last night we slept like babies, not noticing any tremors.  It just didn't happen.

Our home is located here on the Mount of Olives on the top left of the photo in the olive grove just above the Brigham Young University Study Abroad Center-- the modern building with the arches.  The tower of Ascension Church, Augusta Victoria Hospital is just right of center.  The "mount" continues further south (to the right of photo) with its large cemetery.

Several weeks ago, "Family Radio" erected half a dozen billboards in the West Bank like the one above, calling on Palestinians in Arabic to "Cry unto God" before it is too late.  To the best of our knowledge, no signs appear in Jewish communities of Israel.  In response to a newspaper reporter, "Family Radio" stated that they were intentionally targeting Palestinians -- though as is commonly the case, Churches of Palestine and Israel were not consulted.  Yet when an organization like "Family Radio" can raise $ 80 million in five years, they can freely proclaim a "Gospel" of their wrathful God that undercuts the Gospel based witness of Christians in the Middle East and drives a wedge between Christian and Muslim relations.

Sadly, this is typical of fundamentalist Christian Zionists because they pretend to be friends of Israel while in reality treating Israelis as pawns to be destroyed and thrown away at a later date in a sadistic view of history.  How can anyone view such a theology --as Camping and other Christian Zionists -- that begin a countdown to the destruction of the world with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 as anything but anti-Semitic?  And that God would intervene in history violating laws of nature to cause an unprecedented earthquake maiming and killing masses of people?  What a strange theology that ignores John 3:16, let alone the rest of the New Testament.

But then again, it's May 22, and we're still here.  Like all the crazy predictions of the past, we can place the May 21 Judgement Day into the wrong-by-a-country-mile column, and shake our heads in sadness.  Imagine what the $ 80 million raised by this organization and the energy displayed by its adherents might contribute to education and health care here in this land or anywhere in the world.  Now that would be something worth smiling about.

We are long overdue for a colosal earthquake
--not the result of a wrathful God, but because of the laws of physics and geology.  We are sitting here on one of the planet's major earthquake fault lines-- the Jordan River-African Rift Valley fault.  History has recorded a major destructive earthquake in Israel at a rate of one per century.  An earthquake in 31 BCE left permanent damage to the ritual bath in Qumran (just 20 miles to our east).

Fallen columns remain yet today from the 749 CE earth- quake at Hippos on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.

On January 15, 1546 an earthquake estimated at 6.7 on the Richter scale destroyed the dome at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the old city.  Another followed in the mid 1600s, then one in 1759 and another in 1837.

On July 11, 1927 a 6.7 Richter scale earthquake with an epicenter in the Dead Sea led to over 500 deaths.  Augusta Victoria Hospital received significant damage.  This 1921 photo (note the British flag under the Mandate) shows its 65 meter tall bell tower that had to be lowered due to damage, as can be seen when compared with the recent photo below.

With 84 years since that last major earthquake, the odds are that one will soon follow.  It is amazing with all the tragic earthquakes throughout the world these last few years, that one has not yet occurred.

Now if you felt the earth move under your feet over the last week, it did.  But it wasn't an earthquake.

 It was the al-Raja Dabke Dance Troupe from Hope Lutheran School in Ramallah that gave an earth shaking performance, demonstrating talent, dedication to practice, energy, and stamina.

Thanks to the amazing photography by our colleague Rev. Elly McHan, the viewer can actually feel the earth move.  For more photos see

Al- Raja means Hope.  An earthquake that offers hope.
Can you feel it?

by Fred & Gloria Strickert