Hello friends . . . grace and peace,
We started our day in Makhpelah. Makhpelah is the place where Abraham and Sarah and other patriarchs and matriarchs are buried. (see above photo) We are getting in touch with the land of the Bible and seeing how close it all is to Jerusalem. Once again we heard the Bible read to us concerning what happened in the places we were standing. We heard the story of Abraham wanting to have a place to bury Sarah. He was a sojourner in this land and asked to purchase some land. The Hittites, who lived here, were willing to give some land and Abraham refused. He asked to purchase the land and a person was willing to sell to him. More and more we are experiencing and learning about the importance of the Land.
After lunch we visited an Israeli settlement called Efrata and heard from a Jewish Chicago native who lives in the settlement. The settlement is located near Bethlehem in the West Bank. Our host refers to the West Bank as disputed territory.
Within a half an hour, we were in a refugee camp, listening to a 24 year old Palestinian telling us about how his ancestral home was taken from his family in 1948 when the State of Israel was created.
The two perspectives had a significant impact on all of the students in our class. It lead to many questions on our bus trip home, at supper, and in a time of reflection later in the evening. It has brought upon us feelings of helplessness and confusion. In some ways we feel farther from understanding what is going on and what would help.
Our chaplain, Fr. David, gave the perspective that folks who visit here for a week, go home and write a book about the conflict. Those who visit for a few months go home and write an article about the situation here. Those who stay for a year go home and don’t say anything.
The phrase from the Psalm that says, “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” has more meaning for us and it feels more difficult to do. Please join us in praying for God’s peace in the Holy Land.