Thursday, April 7, 2016

Home after Seven Weeks in Israel and the Territories

We are home after seven weeks of teaching in the land.  Yes, there were fewer pilgrims in the land due to safety concerns, but our travels went without incident.  Our thanks to the folks from Getwell Road UMC and the Vicksburg area for a great experience together.

Our next trip has been scheduled for a February 7, 2017 departure.  Why not join us?  For more information, give us a call - 601-497-5860.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter in Jerusalem

We find ourselves in Jerusalem celebrating Easter for the first time.  The words "He is risen" have an even richer ring of truth and joy.

Worship for us began at the Garden Tomb.  While considered a traditional site, there is no lovelier spot in the city.

We then walked through the Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  However my name preference is Church of the Resurrection.

Later in the morning, we encountered an Easter Parade in the Christian Quarter. It is true that "everybody loves a parade!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How Wonderful to Be At Home in the Land

Brenda and I are once again at home in the Land.  This year will mark our 21st season for travel and study of the biblical text in its context.  Our home base will be the Olive Tree Hotel on "the Seam" in heart of Jerusalem.

We now await Bishop James Swanson and his group from Mississippi.  Bishop Swanson is an inspiring episcopal leader and marvelous travel companion.  What learning awaits us!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Getwell Road Plans a Celebration of 30 Years in Ministry with a Tour of the Land Beginning March 12, 2016

On May 20, I met with the congregation of Getwell Road UMC in Southaven, MS.  The church is making plans to celebrate 30 years in ministry in 2016 with a 10-day pilgrimage and study in the land of the Bible.

Some 60 plus persons gathered for an introduction to their upcoming itinerary. The theme for the evening was "Geography and Its Impact on the Bible." 

The group will depart from Memphis on March 12 and return March 21.  If you would like to know more about this program, you can contact pastors Bill Beavers and Jonathan Wallace (662-349-3680).

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Showers of Blessing in the Land of Milk

When I visit biblical sites in the land, I often recall those who have been here before me. This thought process provides me with insights for living and often evokes gratitude.

Then there are times to just enjoy the present moment and to give thanks for what God is doing today. God provided rain for the oasis of Jericho today. I am told that it rarely rains in Jericho which lies in the "land of milk." If it were not for the Springs of Elisha, the City of Palms would look like the Wilderness around it. Rainfall is miniscule.

I joined the locals in giving thanks for the much-needed rain and could not help but soak in the resulting rainbow, God's sign of His covenant with Noah. What a remarkable day to be in ancient Jericho!

HT: Throwback Thursday and a blog first published in 2012

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Five Things You Need to Know about This Week's Lectionary Text According to the Fifth Gospel

This week's lectionary text for preaching is Mark 2:23-3:6.  Here are 5 things you need to know according to the Fifth Gospel, aka the geography of salvation:

  • the "grainfields" perhaps assist in identifying the location of Jesus' healing of the man with the withered hand
  • the Talmud tells us that the best grain in the Galilee comes from the Chorazim area
  • the violent reaction to Jesus' breaking of Sabbath reinforces this identification since the Talmud tells us that the synagogue in Chorazim was Shammai, a more conservative party of the Pharisees
  • Jesus' interpretation of Sabbath observance is closer to that of Hillel which allows one to do good for one's fellow man; in fact, to have the opportunity to do good and not do it on Sabbath would constitute breaking the law of love
  • this interpretation is in keeping with the principle of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus calls for a higher righteousness
The ruins of the synagogue at Korazim National Park

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pentecost and Shavuot

On Saturday and Sunday (May 23-24), Jews celebrated Shavuot. Today Christians will join in the celebration of Pentecost. This shared feast is also known as the festival of First Fruits.

Shavuot marks the end of Passover season for the Jew. A sacrifice of grain is offered in gratitude for the spring harvest. According to the Talmud, the holiday is associated with the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai.

Pentecost brings to a close the fifty days of Easter for the Christian and celebrates the birth of the Church. According to the Acts of the Apostles, God's gift to the infant Church was the Holy Spirit.

For the faithful, the Book of Ruth, the Song of Songs, and the Ten Commandments are to be read during this festival. Further celebrations are a sensual delight with challa in the shape of a ladder, cheese blintzes, and much greenery and blazing red decor. Blessings this Pentecost!  "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!"