We just entered the summer season, here at St. Paul. St. Peter’s Fiesta in Gloucester was last week, school is finally out. My granddaughter has been singing “school’s out for summer” at the top of her lungs for a couple of days now. It seems something new and beautiful blooms every day, especially roses. White wild ones hang in canopies over the cedars, and I should cut them back, but they are lovely. In the marshes, tall grasses hide water birds’ nests, and cattails are just beginning to form. The peonies blossomed suddenly, but then, a heavy rain brought down their gorgeous petals in a heap on the lawn. Blueberries have started to form. We picked very small wild strawberries last night, and felt that our harvest of 30 berries was a miracle of abundance considering how hard they are to find, and how tiny they are.
Many of us are off on adventures of summer already. Mine will begin on July 21st, when my husband and I board a plane for Jerusalem. This is what we are calling a “mini-sabbatical” to the Holy Land. I can hardly believe this is happening. It’s getting more real, as each day, we attend to the details of travel. I will be visiting Redeemer Lutheran Church: www.elcjhl.org/elcjhl-ministries/congregations/jerusalem . If you spend some time on the web pages for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land, you’ll have some idea of where we will be. During the last months we have been reading up on the issues facing Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land, as well as histories of Israel, and other reflections. One book that we found beautifully written, heart-breaking in its content, and incredibly helpful is called My Promised Land by Ari Shavit. Temple Ahavat Achim in Gloucester has been studying the conflicts between Israel and Palestine this spring, and this was one of the books they read. From the Lutheran perspective, we are looking at websites, videos, and writings from leaders in the ELCJHL, Bishop Dr. Munib Younan, Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, the Kairos Document and its history. Much of what we are learning is accessible on-line on websites. We have had conversations with NESynod leaders who have visited Jerusalem, and also with Jewish and Christian friends who travel there frequently. The ELCJHL have a particular mission, and I quote it here: “God calls the ELCJHL to proclaim the Gospel within an Arab context in the Holy Land. This proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the message of salvation is to Arabs, including Palestinians, and is expressed both through witnessing to the Gospel as well as through diakonia.” I will post here as I prepare. Please keep us in your prayers.