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Visiting The Bible In Person

October 16, 2019
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Whether you’re going down the road or halfway across the world, we all know what a powerful teacher travel can be. This week, Rev. Evan Jones discusses how one special trip pushed him to see the Bible in a completely different way.

I have read the Bible my entire life.

Every week in Sunday school, youth group, worship – familiar stories of God’s redemptive work in the world, lessons about how we should love each other and always the odd stories from a different time. Many of these stories resonate deeply with me and provide a guiding light in a dark world. And then….then there are these stories which are so familiar and yet don’t have the same resonance.

This is the case with Luke 19:41-45:

41 As Jesus came to the city (Jerusalem) and observed it, he wept over it. 42 He said, “If only you knew on this of all days the things that lead to peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 The time will come when your enemies will build fortifications around you, encircle you, and attack you from all sides. 44 They will crush you completely, you and the people within you. They won’t leave one stone on top of another within you, because you didn’t recognize the time of your gracious visit from God.”

During Lent, I have heard this passage over and over again – Jesus making his triumphant entry into Jerusalem and weeping over the city (which is a metaphor for all of us). I know this story and have read it over and over, and if I am being really honest, this story has never been especially impactful to me. I know it SHOULD be… but I just never “got it.”

In 2018, I had the opportunity to accompany a group of FirstChurch participants to the Holy Land. We saw incredible sights and explored some monumentally important places – it was wonderful. On the last day, we walked down to the Mount of Olives and sat. As I stared across the valley towards Jerusalem, I started weeping. It was a feeling I can’t really explain but in that moment, staring at the city, the scriptures that before were just out of my reach finally came alive. Despite the countless times I have heard this story of Jesus, for the first time, it became a REAL place, a REAL encounter and filled with REAL emotions. I GOT IT. God’s enveloping love for us, calling us back to the loving arms of the creator, and the compassion that Christ extends to us. All in that moment, I understood with both my heart and my head. Being there made all the difference. More than words on paper, this experience was real and it was life-changing.

I am so excited to be going back in August of 2020 and I want to invite you to join us. We will be visiting some incredible sites and also visiting Germany for the Oberammergau Passion Play. If you have questions, want to hear more stories, or see more pictures, I am glad to share! You can find more information about the trip here.

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