Worked all morning on pictures and still haven’t gotten then up on line. I need to try and figure out a better way of getting them up. At lunch time, I decided that I had enough time inside stuck on the computer and that I needed to head into the Old City. I grabbed my camera and off I trekked. My first stop was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and I am not sure why. It is the traditional site for the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. I walked around taking a look (I have been dozens of times) found a room that I read about, but did not have a flashlight with me, so I will have to return again. I started to walk out, but instead, found myself climbing the stairs to the traditional site of Calvary (all in the same building).
I found myself watching people. Again, like yesterday, there were not many people in the Church. What fascinated me was how people reacted. Some reacted just like I expected, deeply moved by the place, and tortured by what took place 2,000 years ago. Others, however, reacted very differently. The posed for pictures in front of the altar or the statuary. Now that is not strange, because many people have friends take their pictures at these Holy places, but they didn’t just take pictures, they posed and postured for the camera. It was as if they were getting their picture taken with Tom Cruse instead of a icon or altar for Jesus.
Now, I guess I should be really honest with you. I felt nothing. There is a song that talks about that, and it is driving me crazy — I think it is from a musical — maybe Chorus Line, and it kept playing in my head. I felt nothing. The death of Jesus, murdered at the hands of the Romans and the Religious elite, is a horrible reality — but for me, it is not an event to pose for the camera for, any more than I would in front of a display at the Holocaust museum.
Jesus died, because what he invited us to do, to become a part of what too tough. He died, because we didn’t like what he had to say. Yesterday, we got into a discussion about the "literal interpretation" of the Scriptures; are they the "exact" words of God. I don’t believe they are and I was sharing why I didn’t believe that when one of the women turned to me (knowing I was a pastor) and asked: "How many churches have fired you?’ Isn’t that what we did with Jesus? We didn’t like his message, so we fired him?
I needed to leave the Church and go someplace where I could "feel" something. So I wandered through the city to two of my favorite churches. The Dormition Abbey (the church where Mary is said to sleep), and St Peter in Gallicantu (the church remembering Peter’s denial of Jesus). I was alone in both places and I felt something. I felt the peace of God flow over me. A peace that comes despite the racism and religious intolerance that was all around me. A peace that said, we can make a difference — if only we are willing to stand up for what we believe (take up your cross and follow me, is how Jesus put it). As I write I feel that peace and pray that you too, can be filled with God’s gracious peace.