Jerusalem Pilgrimage with Bishop Fairley

February 01, 2017
We met in a modern airport in New Jersey by what appeared to be coincidence, all headed toward the same destination. I couldn't help but rejoice in seeing faces and sharing hugs with people who have shaped who I am, but I am now in Kentucky with its own remarkable contextual differences. At the security check point in the airport the two converged, my family from North Carolina (45 beloved sisters and brothers) and my new family in Kentucky (which includes 35 people that I look forward to getting to know), both blessed by God in different and extraordinary ways yet alike in one hope. One hope, that one day there will be no need for security check points and only one light will be needed. "In him there is no darkness at all; The day and the night are both alike. The Lamb is the light of the city of God.  Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus."
We have come with two different tour companies, both similar in so many ways but different in the stories they will share with us pilgrims. Yet we are alike in one hope, that John was right in what he saw, "...through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life, with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."  -Revelation 22:2. We are pilgrims, all wayward on this blue dot floating in space searching for a truth that can melt the clouds of darkness away. Will we, can we, walk in the peaceful footsteps of one who the prophet Isaiah says, "a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice." -Isaiah 42:3 Will we, can we, hear the echoes of the one who in these tall hills and around the shores of this lake called the Sea of Galilee spoke an incarnational word that shook the foundation of the world? Can we lay down our weapons of all forms (physical and verbal) long enough to hear once again? Not with just our ears or head, nor just intellect, political bent, religious dogma or theological persuasion, but hear a Word I think still possesses the power to reconcile in ways we never thought or dreamed, if we could simply loosen our grip on what we thought was the answer.
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." We will no doubt hear these words over and over again. Will that refrain grow into a chorus of voices that ring with global harmony? A voice loud enough that darkness, injustice, conflict, or any "ism" that divides us cracks under the sound of a new movement. The voice of God's spirit arising from the ancient dust that still knows it's share of conflict.  I pray that here in the land of Jesus and the Bible, the gospel will come alive for each of us in what I hope will be inspirational and powerful. I hope it will be powerful enough to become points of redemptive light strong enough to heal the broken and divided places in us.  That we might, in our own ways, begin a movement that heals, holds, and pushes back against the darkness that threatens to consume us in its fire of "us" against "them." It is true that we are breathing the same molecules breathed by Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ or anything that has ever lived on this earth. "Every breath you take and every bite you swallow is composed of atoms that have been here for a long time."  - Marquette Magazine EDU (2014).
I pray we feel the spirit of God breathing upon us and through us in new ways. I pray the same spirit that once spoke light into the darkness, order into chaos, and life over death will do it again. "Come, Lord Jesus Come!!!"
                                             The Face of Jesus
                            I didn't expect to find you there looking
                            through eyes in deep despair, seeking a
                            love to repair the pain.
                           I didn't expect to find you there in tracks
                           of tears beneath eyelids heavy with fear,
                           anxious about more coming rain.
                           If I'd recognized it was you I would have
                           invited you in from the raging storm without
                           these eyes filled with such disdain.
                                                                               By Leonard E. Fairley