Yesterday was the 60th Anniversary of the Nation of Israel, and, coincidentally, yesterday I received the itinerary for our upcoming Israel trip. It includes sightseeing in the Old City of Jerusalem – The Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, Mount Scopus, the Western (or Wailing) Wall, Church of the Ascension of Christ, the Tomb of Mary, the house of the Upper Room, the Tomb of David, The Basilica of the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion, and more. We’re going to walk the Stations of the Cross, and visit the 700 year old home of an Ambassador for Peace in the heart of the Old City.
And all of that part is certainly going to be cool, but what I’m really excited about is the list of topics that we will be discussing with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders throughout the week, such as: “Abrahamic Faiths: from Coexistence to One Family under God”, “Israeli Perspectives”, “Palestinian Perspectives”, and “Strategies for Peace - Non-violent Social Change”. Later in the week we will be touring Jerusalem and then Ramallah, where I will be ministering on the topic of “The Reconciliation of the Sons of Isaac and the Sons of Ishmael”.
Interestingly, I have been in the flow of reconciliation here in Conyers a lot in the last few days through my involvement with the Rockdale School Superintendent’s Advisory Committee and the United Rockdale Summit. I had recently hit a little bump in the road with the latter group, but that was all resolved this week, and through it I had a wonderful exchange with Pastor Gallman from Trinity Baptist Church. I was sad to hear that he is leaving Conyers to take a church in Florida in a few weeks, because he’s a really open and humble guy with a sweet spirit, and I’ve gained a lot of respect for him through our collaboration with the URS this last year. And also this week I have been involved in a series of conversations that has brought some reconciliation and healing in many of my personal relationships.
At the same time, I am also aware that there are so many divisions among people right around me, particularly among many people of faith, who build walls between themselves instead of bridges. Covenant relationships are being severed right and left, despite the great move of unity that is taking place among so many others.
Yesterday I had lunch with Dr. Lovelace, and at the table he made a statement that I’ve been thinking about a good bit over the last few hours. He said that everyone just needs to learn to forgive the world. I think that that is a powerful concept, because there are too many people that are angry with the world for different reasons, and that is why there is so much strife and violence and war and unnecessary death and killing.
I’ve finally reached a point where I don’t even want to waste my energy on trying to explain to those angry, small-minded people who don’t understand CITN or my/our message...those who think that love and grace and forgiveness are taboo subjects, and signs of unorthodox theology. Those who want a fight will not find one with me any more. I want to be a peace maker…whether it’s helping to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Charismatics and Southern Baptists, or just in my own personal relationships.
I believe that all of the physical upheaval that is occurring right now on the planet (cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.) is evidence of the whole earth "groaning and travailing together in pain, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God" (Romans 8:22, 23). This earth is convulsing, because a new one is about to be born. I have more to say on this subject, but I’ll continue it tomorrow.