Tuesday, March 25, 2008

O Jerusalem

I picked up this book a while back at the local library in their book sale section. I figured for a $.25 I couldn't go wrong. After getting back from Israel, I needed a Jerusalem fix so I began to read it. WOW.

I had never heard of Laurie King, or her Mary Russell novels before. Mary Russell becomes the apprentice of Sherlock Holmes and Ms. King has Russell narrating the stories much like Watson does in the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books. I loved the book. Maybe because she does such a good job describing the land of Israel and in particular the Old City of Jerusalem. I was walking down many of the same streets with Russell and Homes, even if the story was set 100 years ago.

It is interesting to read the various reviews on Amazon about the book and the series (this was the 5th in the Mary Russell series). Why people connect with a book is always fascinating.

If you are interested in a good mystery, and want to experience Jerusalem I highly recommend this book. I am looking forward to reading some of her other books.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


This morning as I came to the church I decided to listen to Jesus Christ Superstar. Every year I have some crazy traditions that I like to follow. Watching It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and Charlie Brown Christmas -- during the advent season. Listening to, and if time permits, watching Jesus Christ Superstar during Holy Week (all of them in the original versions by the way).

This morning, as I was working on my sermon, I decided on a new tradition. A couple of years ago, I picked up Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan's book THE LAST WEEK, in which they walk day by day through the last week of Jesus life. It is a powerful book as it helps one to see just what was going on that last week. It is told, not in the typical Max Lucado fashion (I always feel sick from all of his "sweetness") but from the perspective of historically what may have really happened, and why Mark (our oldest Gospel) tells the story the way that he does.

It is my goal to make it my tradition to walk through Holy Week day by day with this challenging book. Right now I am just trying to play catch-up and re-read the whole thing.

On Friday, they ask the question: Did Jesus have to die? Did Jesus die for the sins of the world? They write:
It is important to realize that what killed Jesus was nothing unusual. We have no reason to think that the temple authorities were wicked people. Moreover, as empires go, Rome was better than most. There was nothing exceptional or abnormal about it; that is simply the way domination systems behave. So common is this dynamic that, as we suggested earlier in this book, it can also be called the normalcy of civilization. At a broad level of generalization, Good Friday was the result of the collision between the passion of Jesus and the normalcy of civilization. . . . According to Mark, Jesus did not die for the sins of the world. The language of substitutionary sacrifice for sin is absent from his story. But in an important sense, he was killed because of the sin of the world. It was the injustice of domination systems that killed him, injustice so routine that it is part of the normalcy of civilization.
As we continue this Holy Week journey to the cross and ultimately the empty tomb --- we need to ask ourselves WHY. Why did Jesus die, and what does his resurrection require of me!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Lindsey competed this week at the DECA State event in Indianapolis. DECA is a program to help students learn about marketing and business skills. Not real sure why she got involved, but she did nevertheless. She competed in the Travel and Tourism area. She and her partner Sara took second place in the state competition which means that they qualified for the International Career Development Conference (Competition) to take place in Atlanta, April 26th - 29th. Pretty amazing if you ask me.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I'm Back

I had a terrible time getting home from Israel. Worse than the trip in January. We arrived just fine (although a little late) into NY JFK airport on Friday morning. The flight from Tel Aviv was long and restless --- I just don't sleep well on a plane. I had gotten word in Tel Aviv that my flight had been changed from an 8:30 am departure, to a 3:40 pm departure, but I had no idea why. Getting to NY I found that the early flight was canceled do mechanical issues. I asked if there were any other flights and they said "NO". I was then stuck with what to do? I had not slept much for the past 40 hours (I had gotten up early on Thursday to go to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre). I knew that I could not sleep in the terminal (I had my camera bag and laptop), so I decided to buy a day pace to the American Airlines "Admirals Club". I found a nice corner and went to sleep for about three hours.

Once I got up, I started making phone calls. I was scheduled to preside over a funeral service the next morning in Munster. I had not met the family, (it was the grandmother of someone Lindsey and Haley babysit for) so I needed to gather some information. I was hoping that I would be able to swing by the funeral home before going to the Theater to see "La Cage Aux Folles". Well, my plane decided to be delayed --- by 2 hours, so I did not get home until 9:00pm. The amazing thing is that I somehow caught the bus, otherwise it would have been 10pm before I got home. Needless to say, I made it to neither the funeral home nor the theater that night! Nancy was not a happy camper having to go to the show without me.

The good news was the nap at JFK helped me to get over my jet lag pretty quickly. Unfortunately, I caught the bug that was going around our bus on the last day and it was starting to kick in.

Since getting home I have had three people die (funeral tonight and another one Saturday morning). We also have a couple of people who are pretty close to dying as well. Crazy times here at Ridge Church.

I really enjoyed this trip. It was very different for a number of reasons. First we were in different hotels and used a different travel company than I have traveled with before. Second, the guide was excellent (even if he was WRONG sometimes). But he was much more even handed in his dealing the the Palestinian people. Don't get me wrong, he was very PRO Israeli, but he seemed to have some compassion for the Palestinian people's plight. Third, I got to visit some places that I have never been to before. Finally, the group of pastors I was with were AWESOME. I met some really cool people.

I am trying to get my pictures on line. Hopefully I will get a few more up today and finish it up over the weekend. I will also retrace my steps and talk about each day a little. So stay tuned . . . more will follow.