Note: In January my wife and I joined a group of other pastors and their spouses and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was a very moving experience. I kept a running journal of the experience so that I could reflect on the experience after I returned. This post is part of a series of blogs I have written to convey what I sensed while on this life changing trip. You can read about the entire trip in a devotional book called "Touching the Footprints of Jesus."
The second thing that stood out in my mind on that trip to Caesarea was a group of Jewish school children who were touring the same site. It is an important site in Jewish history as well and that particular spot is a familiar field trip for local school children. What struck me was that some of the chaperons were armed with rifles. They carried them over their shoulder as if it was the most normal thing to carry a loaded weapon on a school field trip. That would be unthinkable in the United States, yet was normal in that context. On other days I often saw men with handguns tucked into their belts. In Jerusalem itself it was common to see multiple soldiers with machines guns patrolling the narrow streets. Considering that school children on a field trip needed to be guarded by armed chaperons further reinforced the idea that things that start out great, such as a palace, can turn out not so great. It was also a powerful reminder to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and ask God to keep His chosen people safe. Lord, hear our prayer.