Living God in Jerusalem – In the scriptorium

We were on the top of Masada. We left Jerusalem early both to avoid the crowds and avoid the heat. We were successful on both counts! It is the most amazing place echoing with the stories of the past, of heroic action. It echos with the splendour of Herod’s court.

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Yet when the palace was empty and the zealots had fled there from Jerusalem they established a synagogue and we sat and prayed there. We remembered the speech of Eleazar exhorting the people not to allow themselves to be captured and enslaved by the Romans.

Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice…We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favour that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom.”

We read Psalm 59

Even now they lie in wait for my life;
    the mighty stir up strife against me.

In the corner of the space was the room where the scrolls would have been kept. And there was a rabbi there at work. He was writing out a scroll of the Pentateuch. He had been working in this ancient space, like a monastic scriptorium, for a year and had a lot more to do. ‘What is your name?’ he asked me. I told him. He took his pen with which he had been copying the sacred text and wrote my name in Hebrew and sealed it with love. It was an unexpected blessing in an unexpected place. I don’t know his name.

It reads ‘Andrew’

Lord, for unexpected blessings in unexpected places, thank you. Amen.

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Living God in Jerusalem – Disputed territory

It has not been an easy day, but then entering into anyone’s disputes is never easy or comfortable.  We began with a visit to the Dheisheh Palestinian Refugee Camp in Bethlehem.  We then moved on to the Efrata Israeli Settlement which is just outside Bethlehem.  Then we concluded the day by visiting the National Holocaust Memorial and Museum, Yad Vashem.  It is almost impossible to take in all of that.

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Martyrs of the Dheisheh Camp

In both the Refugee Camp and the Settlement we met passionate men who told us the truth from their perspectives.  The displaced Palestinians had a right to their land even though it was a full seventy years since they were forced to move as the State of Israel was first created.  They were waiting for the restitution of what is rightly theirs.  The settlers, on the other hand, knew that it was their God given right to be on this land.  The international community may condemn them for their illegal act but they do not care.  This land belonged to no one but them.  They are here and here to stay we were told very clearly.

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The calm beauty of the synagogue at Efrata Settlement

Then we saw what can happen when antisemitism becomes part of a distortion of a national psyche, becomes part of a political agenda.  The horrors of the Holocaust are never diminished however many times you listen to the testimonies, however many times you see the piles of discarded shoes and the yellow stars waiting to be sewn on to clothing.  It seems impossible that this happened in such recent history – yet it did.

Some one commented to me that it was like putting a frog in a kettle.  Put the frog into boiling water and it will leap out; put it in tepid water and bring it slowly to the boil … it’s a famous metaphor for how we are sometimes unaware of what is creeping up on us, incrementally destroying, until you wake up and find that it is too late. Was that what it was like under the Nazi regime?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that whilst people speak about wanting peace their passions do not allow them to make peace, because peace will involve talking and ultimately compromise and recognising in some ways the rights of the other person, not just to have what they need, but to have a right to exist.

The Psalmist describes the problem so clearly.

Too long have I had my dwelling
   among those who hate peace. 
I am for peace;
   but when I speak,
   they are for war. (Psalm 120.6-7)

There were no winners among those we met today – but there were a great many losers.  Standing in the Hall of Names in Yad Vashem I was overwhelmed by the images in the dome that surrounded me – all those lovely, innocent faces, and among them all those children.  One and a half million Jewish children died as part of the six million Jews who were slaughtered in the Holocaust.  Each of them was innocent.  Palestinian children suffer every day and experience deprivations that they should never have to suffer.  Each of them is innocent.

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The faces of the innocent in the Hall of Names

The land may be disputed but our children must never be the victims of our disputes – yet all too often they are, and they pay the price for the rest of their lives.

Lord, may this Holy Land be truly holy,
for all its children.
Amen.

Living God in Jerusalem – By the fire

It’s not something I need to think about here where it’s very warm and very humid but normally at this time of the year I’m thinking about keeping warm – and there’s nothing like a real fire for that.  To be honest I don’t have one.  I could – the Deanery has two lovely fireplaces and my predecessor often had a real fire.  But I remember too well my mum getting up early when we were children in order to get the fire lit before we got dressed in front of it to go off to school, covering the fireplace with sheets of newspaper (when newspapers were a proper size that enabled them to be used to do this job) so that the fire would draw.  She would hang our clothes on a clothes horse so that the chill would go off them.  Jack Frost would have played on the inside of the windows overnight but as the fire warmed the living room his traces disappeared.  Then at the end of the day she would have to clean out the grate, getting the ash swept up, build a fire, or ‘bank up’ one that was burning slowly so that it would last.  It was hard work – but it was lovely.

We have spent today on Mount Zion visiting first of all the Dormition Abbey and then the Cenacle, the Upper Room, the Room of the Last Supper.  We then went to Oskar Schindler’s grave and remembered this righteous man.  Finally, we went to the Church of St Peter-in-Gallicantu.  It is the church which stands on the traditional site of the house of the High Priest, Caiaphas, and the place to which Jesus was brought after his arrest for questioning before the Sanhedrin before being imprisoned overnight.  It was the place where the cock crowed twice (hence the name Gallicantu) and Peter denied Jesus three times.

The church is on a number of levels but in the lower church, which you can easily pass on your way down to see ‘Jesus’ cell’, are three amazing icons which deserve careful examination.  It is these that I wish to share with you – because they are wonderful.

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The first shows Peter, on the left, Jesus on the right. Jesus’ hands are bound.  He is a prisoner.  He is looking at Peter but his feet are turned from him as though he is heading away from him.  His face does not show the gentle look, the compassionate look we so often associate with the Lord’s face.  This is a face of anger, of disappointment, not a face we want to be familiar with.  Peter is looking back at Jesus, he stands upright, still, but we need to look at his hands.  The right hand, the hand of blessing and friendship hangs down limply, useless.  It is his left hand which is held up in a gesture of disdain.  Then as now in this culture the left hand was used for the toilet, for filthy jobs.  You would never eat with your left hand and to turn it on someone, palm turned towards them, is a gesture of real rejection.  Between them a fire burns.  Others are keeping warm around it, those who will challenge Peter and provoke his denials.  At the top of the icon a cock stands on the pillar, it crows.  The Lord’s prophecy has come true.

‘Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’  (Mark 14.72)

Lord Jesus, for the many times I have denied you.  Lord, have mercy.

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In the second icon, Peter sits alone in isolation.  The city walls can be spotted in the distance, but he is outside, in a place of wilderness and abandonment. Behind him an abyss has opened up, ready to swallow him.  He sits on a rock, but Jesus had said that he, Simon, was Peter, the rock on which the church would be built.  But he lacked the stability, the dependability of a rock, he gave way at the first testing.  One side of the rock is red, as though lit by the fires of Hades, ready to consume him. The fire that had warmed them in the courtyard is ready to consume him.  Jesus had once told a story about a poor man called Lazarus and a rich man at whose gate the poor man had sat.

‘The rich man died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.”’ (Luke 16.22-24)

Peter too looks for consolation – but there is no one to offer any, for at this moment his Lord is in chains.

‘And he broke down and wept.’ (Mark 14.72)

Lord Jesus, for those times I have lost all hope. Christ, have mercy.

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In the third icon there is another fire burning.  This is not a fire to warm, nor to consume, but a fire from which to be fed, a fire that speaks of the presence of God, as in the bush that burned, which attracted Moses in the wilderness.  Peter and Jesus are facing each other again but Peter, rather than standing rigid and upright as in the first icon, is bent and inclined towards Jesus.  His left hand is covered, his right hand open and ready to receive.  Jesus is looking with tenderness towards him. For each of those denials around another fire Jesus has asked three times for an affirmation of Peter’s love and commissioned him on each of these three times.  He holds out towards him a shepherd’s crook, for he is to care for the sheep.  In his other hand he holds a scroll, the new law of love that his death and resurrection have brought into being.  Behind them the apostles are on the Sea of Galilee.  They are fishing and we can just make out a mighty catch – 153 fish, someone counted – representing all the peoples of the earth.  They had had an apostolic commission at their first calling on this shore and it is reinforced now as they haul in the catch

‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ (Matthew 4.19)

And between Jesus and Peter we see the breakfast prepared.  There is bread and there is fish and enough and more than enough for all.

Lord, for the many times I have not loved you. Lord, have mercy.

Lord, kindle the fire of your love deep within me;
may it purge away my sin.
Amen.

Living God in Galilee – Up north

I’ve been ‘up north’ for a couple of days and as I had very limited WiFi where we were staying which is why you have heard nothing really from me.  Though most of my time here in the Holy Land is focused in Jerusalem and its neighbourhoods this was an opportunity for the course members to see something of Galilee.  Whenever I’m here with a group of pilgrims its always great to escape the intensity of Jerusalem, even for a short while, and to breathe the good air and experience the calmer feel of Galilee, the home region of Jesus.

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Part of the remains of Capernaum

Whilst Nazareth is wonderful and the boat ride on the Sea of Galilee moving and memorable it is the visit to Capernaum that is for me the most important thing.  It becomes a pilgrimage within the pilgrimage.  Once you start looking for the place in the gospels you discover that there are so many occasions when Jesus is in this town and that it is the focus of so much healing and teaching.  As I often say to people, ‘This was Jesus’ parish’, this was the place where he really knew the people and ministered to them.  This was the town in which he cured the Centurion’s slave.  This was where he cured in the synagogue the man possessed by an evil spirit.  This was where he cured Peter’s mother-in-law.  This was where he taught about himself being the ‘bread of life’.  This is where the people felt that he acted ‘with authority and power’ (Luke 4.37). This is where he came with his mother, Mary and his disciples after they had been to the wedding in Cana. This was a place that knew what a blessing it was to be alongside Jesus.

So what startles me, and it struck me particularly as we read the passage I always get people to read just before we leave the town, what startles me is what Jesus says to the people of the town.

‘And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgement it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.’ (Matthew 11.23-24)

All of these amazing things had happened here; Jesus had lived as part of the community, and yet he said that it would be more tolerable for Sodom on the day of judgement than this place. What on earth is going on?

It calls for honesty.  It’s hard to break into the human heart, it’s hard to convert the deep places of our selves, we’re better at putting up barriers than taking them down.  It happened to Jesus, it will happen to us. There are no easy solutions in ministry.  What we are called to be is faithful and not to give up when the seed seems to be falling on the stony ground that surrounds this town – and perhaps it was that that Jesus was thinking of when he told that parable.

God, bless those going through hard times in ministry;
give them the strength to remain committed and faithful.
Amen.

Living God in Jerusalem – ‘and there were shepherds’

Believe it or not we are gearing up for Christmas! It is only a couple of months away and as soon as December begins at Southwark Cathedral we will begin welcoming the thousands of people who will want to join us to sing the carols and hear the readings about what happened in that little town of Bethlehem two thousand years ago. I was thinking about that as we drove into the Judean wilderness today.  Our goal was three-fold – the beautiful Wadi Qelt on the side of which is St George’s Monastery, the baptismal site at the Jordan River and Jordan, the oldest continually inhabited city on the face of the earth and the lowest.

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The barren beauty of the Judean wilderness

To get there meant driving down the road that leads from Jerusalem to Jericho.  Either side of the road can be seen Bedouin camps and in the early morning coolness flocks of sheep and goats were being led out to find pasture amongst the scrub.  Often the one leading them, however, is not some wizened old man but a young child.  It is often the case that, just like David, the shepherd is nothing more than a child.  David went out armed with his wit, a sling and a bag of pebbles to keep his father’s flock safe from harm.  These young people equally head out into what appears to us a harsh and challenging environment but which to them is home.

At many performances of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ this Christmas a treble will sing out the recitative

There were shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. (Luke 2.8)

It’s appropriate that a child sings it, not to remind us of the sound of the angels but of the reality of the shepherds.  And perhaps those who heard the angels and headed down the hill into the town were not a bunch of rough tough men who had seen it all before but some young children who were eager to see a new-born baby, just like children often are.

One of my favourite John Rutter carols is the ‘Shepherd’s Pipe Carol’.  This was Rutter’s first carol, written when he was just 18 and it retains a freshness as we hear it – and perhaps a great deal of truth that we still see in a Bedouin flock in the early morning light.

Going through the hills on a night all starry
On the way to Bethlehem
Far away I heard a shepherd boy piping
On the way to Bethlehem

Angels in the sky brought this message nigh:
“Dance and sing for joy that Christ the newborn King
Is come to bring us peace on earth
And He’s lying cradled there at Bethlehem.”

“Tell me, shepherd boy piping tunes so merrily
On the way to Bethlehem
Who will hear your tunes on these hills so lonely
On the way to Bethlehem?

Angels in the sky brought this message nigh:
“Dance and sing for the joy that Christ the newborn King
Is come to bring peace on earth
And He’s lying cradled there at Bethlehem.”

“None may hear my pipes on these hills so lonely
On the way to Bethlehem;
But a King will hear me play sweet lullabies
When I get to Bethlehem.”

Angels in the sky came down from on high
Hovered over the manger where the babe was lying
Cradled in the arms of his mother Mary
Sleeping now at Bethlehem.

Lord Jesus,
however old or young I am,
may I welcome you with equal
awe and wonder.
Amen.

Living God in Jerusalem – Speakers’ Corner

Wander along to Hyde Park in London and its northeast corner and on many days and especially at the weekend you will find plenty of people standing on a soapbox at what is know as Speakers’ Corner.  You can hear reasonable and unreasonable, likely and unlikely opinions, acceptable and unacceptable being aired.  The audience join in, heckling the speaker or warmly applauding some expression of common sense that they hear.  It is a bit on an institution, a place from which you are free to speak and express your views.

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A speaker mounts his soapbox

Today we have been to the Temple Mount otherwise known as Haram esh-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary.  We dressed modestly out of respect for those who worship there and, entering from the western side had a fantastic visit.  I said that I would share with you what were new experiences.  Well we had a good amount of time and so we were taken to the eastern wall of the Haram, the side which faces the Mount of Olives and to the south-east corner, on first sight rather empty and unimpressive but now, I have finally discovered, unmissable.  This was part of the extension to the platform that Herod the Great had built for his grand reconstruction of the Temple.  But on this side was located the Portico of Solomon.  I am ashamed to say that in all my visits to this holy site this fact had eluded me.  But here in a colonnaded area people would sit and would listen to teachers.  And it was here that they sat and listened to a rabbi who had come down from Nazareth, Jesus.  He would have been one of many rabbis who were teaching in what was the equivalent of our Speakers’ Corner in London, a place of debate, of argument, of challenge, and in the gospels we encounter all of that.

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The rather empty and unimpressive south-east corner

It is St John who tells us that Jesus was there.

‘At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe.’ (John 10.22-15)

It was winter, the wind was blowing and they were keeping warm and this dispute begins.  But they gather around him because this is what happened in this portico.  We can imagine that the same happened at other times in this same place, this place of debate.  Gentiles were welcome in this part of the Temple complex, it was the Temple itself that they couldn’t enter but they too could wander the portico, the colonnade and listen to these wandering teachers, these itinerant preachers and this Jesus, this northern guy, with his rag-bag collection of disciples and followers seemed always to gather a big crowd.

The apostles had listened to Jesus speaking here and so it was natural that they adopted it as a place from which to teach.  We hear of the Portico again in the Acts of Apostles.  Following the healing of the paralysed man at the Beautiful Gate we read

‘While [the man] clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk?” (Acts 3.11-13)

Then, according to Acts again, it became the place where the whole Christian community gathered, the church that came together in the Portico.

‘Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.’ (Acts 10.12)

So this ‘Speakers’ Corner’ became the place where the church was rooted in debate and teaching, in signs and wonders.  What an amazing part of the Haram, the Temple Mount – and why hadn’t I visited it before?

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Remains of what was there are being exposed

But then I wondered whether Jesus was there before.  Was this where his parents found him when he was lost all those years before?

‘After three days [his parents] found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.’ (Luke 2.46)

Perhaps, maybe.  Did Jesus return to this place of debate 20 years later and continue the discussion.  It’s an intriguing idea. The debates of course go on, and they need to.  I certainly won’t be missing this part of the Haram again – it was the ‘nursery slopes’ of the church. But just to lighten the mood a poem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, more famous for his argumentative detective.  The poem is called ‘A Parable’.

The cheese-mites asked how the cheese got there,
And warmly debated the matter;
The Orthodox said that it came from the air,
And the Heretics said from the platter.
They argued it long and they argued it strong,
And I hear they are arguing now;
But of all the choice spirits who lived in the cheese,
Not one of them thought of a cow.

God of wisdom,
may we know when and where to speak,
when to stop arguing
and when to simply listen.
Amen.

Living God in Jerusalem – Uncovering the past in the present

There are many things that make an impression on pilgrims when they come to the Holy Land.  The noise, the traffic and the sheer quantity of people are of course some of what they find. But other things create a deeper, significant and more lasting impression.  Some pilgrims of course leave a lasting impression on the place itself.  We have had a bit of both of that today as we focused our attention on the birth narratives, first in Ein Karem and then in Bethlehem.

Groups most often go to the church of St John the Baptist but this group was going instead to the Visitation Church.  The reason that a lot of groups don’t go there is that the coach can’t get very close and the final approach is up a rather steep flight of steps.  But before you ever get anywhere near the church you come to a well, or more precisely a spring.

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The spring at Ein Karem

The water flows gently, but constantly from this spring and as far as people know it always has done.  When Mary came to visit her cousin Elizabeth, whilst both of them were pregnant, they must have used this spring in order to get water for the household.  That kind of thing is indisputable – they needed water and this was the source.  We stood close to the spring and just listened.  It was a wonderful experience. In the silence I was reminded of a passage from St John’s Gospel

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”  (John 7.37-38)

This spring flows and flows, living water, like grace abounding.  It was a wonderful place to begin, a lasting impression.

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Look – no scaffolding!

Yet what made the biggest impression on this visit came in the afternoon when we arrived at Bethlehem itself.  I was here in February with the Southwark Diocesan Pilgrimage.  The scaffolding was still up inside and outside of the church in various places and restoration work was ongoing.  Eight months later and it looks so different.  The north nave aisle is still being completed as is the northern portion of the Constantinian floor of the nave.  But elsewhere … well it’s hard to do it justice.  What has been discovered of the past is incredible.  The centuries of grease and grime that had covered the columns and the walls in a black patina have gone.  What has been revealed are amazing mosaics including an angel which no one knew was there.

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The once hidden angel

On each of the pillars is a painted icon – and the pillars themselves gleam.

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Incredible columns

But on these you also find the graffiti of the past.  These are the impressions that former pilgrims have made upon the place.

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Graffiti lost and now revealed

This one grabbed my attention.  It looks like an heraldic crest, a doodle by a knight.  On closer examination it looks like a rampant lion.  I was wondering, and this is pure speculation, but was this a doodle by an English or French knight, a Crusader, some one marching under the banner of Richard the Lion-heart?  I don’t know – but it sent a shiver down my spine.  This impression made an impression.  Who was the person who scored this, maybe with pride, into the structure of the place?  What impression did the church make on him, because it would have been a beautiful place with all of the mosaics and icons intact.  I imagined him like the knight in Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ someone who would have made another pilgrimage from Southwark and it’s Priory.

A KNIGHT there was, and that (one was) a worthy man,
Who from the time that he first began
To ride out, he loved chivalry,
Fidelity and good reputation, generosity and courtesy.
He was very worthy in his lord’s war,
And for that he had ridden, no man farther,
As well in Christendom as in heathen lands,
And (was) ever honoured for his worthiness

Leaving the ‘little town’ you pass by more recent impressions.

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A beautiful smile from a hideous wall

The wall is still there and the graffiti of modern worthy and honourable people persists, people calling for freedom and justice.  It makes a lasting impression – but then truth, like water, should ever flow, from past, to present.

Jesus, living water,
refresh and sustain us;
Jesus, the Father’s truth,
inspire and enlighten us;
Jesus, always in our present,
uncover our past and lead us to your future.
Amen.

Living God in Jerusalem – Watch where you walk

It’s good advice, wherever you are, and especially in these days when many of us are texting as we walk or engrossed in that other world that is being delivered through our headphones – watch where you walk! Distracted as we so often are nowadays we can easily miss where we’re putting our feet or what we’re walking past.

No street in the old city of Jerusalem is without its treasures.  Today we took a walk from Herod’s Gate to the Pools of Bethesda. That basically involves walking down one street, Herod’s Gate Ascent as it is called, before turning left and heading down what we know as the Via Dolorosa but in the direction of the Lion (St Stephen’s) Gate. Those who have been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem are used to competing with small tractors pulling carts behind them, with coaches and minibuses and cars negotiating the far too narrow streets that people drive along.  Now there is a more recent phenomenon and one with much greater stealth – the electric bike!  These are ridden at speed and arrive behind you silently.  You have to have your wits about you as you manage the age-polished limestone pavement, steps and slopes as you head down this ascent.

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Symbols stenciled on houses 

But as we walked we kept stopping to look what was painted on the walls.  This street is part of the Muslim Quarter and the images on the houses were put there by proud Muslims and especially those who have been on the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.  This pilgrimage to circle the Kaaba and to perform other associated rites, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.  If you have done it then you proudly proclaim this to the community by putting on your home a symbol of the Kaaba itself.  It really is fantastic when you, a pilgrim yourself, see the symbols of others pilgrimage so clearly displayed.

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Celebrating the Hajj

But the walls you pass by contain other wonders as well.  Turning the corner we stopped to look at a portion of wall.  Just examining it you could easily see the remains of one bricked up arch, the remains of an arch that once sprung out across the road from this wall.  And at the base the unmistakable stones from Herod’s temple, destroyed in AD 70 and here reused by some canny builder.  The wall told its own story of change and reuse and of the passing of time and purpose.  Yet there it was, a wall, doing its job as a changing world passed by and pilgrims paused to look and wonder.

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A wall that tells a story all of its own

The reuse of stones is as old as the hills from which they are quarried.  In the account of the battle between the prophet Elijah and the priests of Baal we read this

‘First [Elijah] repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name’; with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord.’  (1 Kings 18. 30b-32a)

The welsh poet has a lovely phrase about stones in his poem ‘In Church’

It has waited like this
Since the stones grouped themselves about it.

The stones in his imagination are more animate, than inanimate and framing something of a mystery, holding a mystery.

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An old British Mandate post box!

We walked back along El Wad and there at the corner was something else in the wall, which I had never seen before, a reminder of former times, just sitting there, ready to tell its stories.  Watch where you walk – you could easily miss something!

Lord, may I walk through life
taking notice of what is around me
because if I don’t
I might just walk past you.
Amen.

Living God in Jerusalem – Setting off

Having just returned from Romania I’m now off to the Holy Land. You may question the sanity of this. As I sit waiting for my flight I’m inclined to question it as well. But I’m looking forward to being back in Jerusalem and at St George’s College and excited about helping to lead a course over the next two weeks, helping people discover the land that Jesus knew, the land in which he walked, the land in which he rose to new life, the land in which the church came to birth.

I promise not to blog all the time. You have enough ‘stuff’ to deal with. But I will share anything I think you’d be interested in. Please keep me in your prayers, and the people at the College and the participants on the course. And pray with the psalmist, as we did in Morning Prayer today, for the peace of Jerusalem.

Let there be peace upon Israel.‘ Ps 125.5

Living God in Romania – A long long way

Can you remember 1998 and a hit song by Fat Boy Slim? He sang ‘Praise you’ and the opening words came to my mind when we began this final day of our pilgrimage around Romania.

We’ve come a long long way together 
Through the hard times and the good
I have to celebrate you baby
I have to praise you like I should.

We’ve travelled a huge distance. Today we’ve started in Braşov and will end at Bucharest Airport. But pilgrimage is always about travelling distances together ‘through the hard times and the good.’ But these times whilst demanding have been good.

The exterior of Peles Castle

The final visit was to Peles Castle, a fantasy of a building set in beautiful woodland, but on a Saturday something of a tourist hotspot! But it gave us a chance to get together and have a group photo.

Our pilgrimage group

We will go our separate ways and each will take something with them I’m sure. For me it has to be the amazing images painted on the outside of the monasteries and the incredible calendars on the inside. Such an imaginative way of guiding the community through the year. Three lovely Masses in three different places. The beauty of this country. The colours of autumn. But always the joy of travelling with Christian sisters and brothers.

I know it’s Celtic and not Romanian but what better than this blessing to send us on our way.

May the road rise to meet you, 
may the wind be ever at your back. 
May the sun shine warm upon your face, 
and the rains fall soft upon your fields. 
And until we meet again, 
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

In the Steps of Martin Luther

A Southwark Cathedral Pilgrimage 2017

sabbaticalthoughtsblog.wordpress.com/

Canda, Jerusalem, Mucknall

Southwark Diocesan Pilgrimage 2016

Hearts on Fire - Pilgrims in the Holy Land

A good city for all

A good city for all

In the Steps of St Paul

Southwark Cathedral Pilgrimage June 2015

LIVING GOD

Reflections from the Dean of Southwark

Passion in real time - a retreat for Holy Week

Led by the Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn

Andrew Nunn's reflections from General Synod

the personal views of the Dean of Southwark