Monday, February 21, 2011

Holy Land Pilgrimage – Lessons from Mt. Scopus

Note: In January 2011 my wife and I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This post is part of a series of blogs I have written to convey what I learned while on this life changing trip. You can read about the entire trip in the devotional book Touching the Footprints of Jesus.

As my regular readers know, I have been blogging the last couple of weeks about my recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Throughout the entire experience I was constantly amazed at our Jewish guide’s rich grasp of history. He seemed to know the chronology of just about every rock or tree we passed by. Since I love history, I enjoyed hearing his mini-lectures. But what was equally amazing was his complete lack of ability to make a spiritual connection between the history he was telling us and the biblical narrative from which they emerged. He clearly knew the history of the Holy Land, but he also clearly missed the point of most of what had happened there in the past 3500 years.

There was one exception to our guide’s lack of spirituality, when we entered Jerusalem for the first time on our journey. We drove to the top of Mt. Scopus and stood on the hillside overlooking the city. Our guide put on his yarmulke and gave us a traditional Jewish toast to Jerusalem that even included a little prayer in Hebrew. It was a special moment and I sensed our guide was sincere in his prayer. It was the only time that our guide had a spiritual moment during our entire trip.

Though I was disappointed that our guide missed most of the spiritual connections that emanate from the Holy Land, as I have reflected back on the experience it occurs to me that he was not that much different from many Christians who only show up at church for Easter and Christmas services. They come get a little taste of spirituality and then go back on their way thinking they have done their religious duty. When Christians do that, they are just like our tour guide, having a spiritual moment when it is convenient. With all due respect, I must wonder how meaningful that kind of faith really is.

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