Israel: A Journey of Reflection and Hope

Last year, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Israel, a journey filled with rich history, vibrant culture, and unforgettable experiences. My trip began in Tel Aviv, where I explored the modern city’s bustling markets, beautiful beaches, and lively nightlife.

From there, I ventured to Jerusalem, a city steeped in religious significance. The Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Dome of the Rock, pictured above, were profound highlights, evoking a unique sense of spirituality and awe. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus before his crucifixion was a profoundly moving experience as I traced the path he took on the Via Dolorosa, reflecting on the historical and spiritual significance of the journey.

I also ventured into the stunning desert landscapes of the Negev, hiked in the serene beauty of the Galilee region, and floated in the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea. Throughout my trip, I savored delicious Israeli cuisine, from falafel and shawarma to fresh hummus and falafel.

But the most memorable aspect of my trip was the warm hospitality and genuine kindness of the people I met. Israel’s complex history and vibrant present left a lasting impression, making this journey, with its spiritual and cultural encounters, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

To keep the memories alive, I brought olive oil, water from the Jordan River, and many trinkets to remind me of my time there. These souvenirs are tangible mementos of my beautiful moments and rich experiences in this remarkable country.

My heart breaks from the devastating acts of war by Hamas against Israel, resulting in the tragic loss of innocent lives and the taking of individuals as hostages. My heart breaks by the destruction of such a Holy Place. Further, my heart breaks for the many wars destroying God’s beautiful creation. Acts of violence and brutality have historically intensified animosities rather than fostering resolution. And, of course, war has drastically escalated between Israel and Hamas with no end in sight.

We live in a world of many challenges, yet we still serve a good God! God is the one true God who loves people and desires to have a relationship with all who would reach out in response to God’s love. God will never force Godself upon any of us, and in fact, will never force us to serve God. This was proven in the Garden of Eden thousands of years ago by providing a choice to serve or reject God.

I don’t have all the answers for what is happening right now; however, I do know what we see with our physical eyes is not permanent. One day, Jesus Christ will rule and reign in perfect justice, and we will be free from wars and rumors of wars.

But for now, in moments of crisis, we as followers of Christ must seek to respond in the most God-honoring, biblically informed way possible. I believe the most faithful response to the conflict in Israel and Gaza was outlined by our Bishop, John Schol, in four distinct ways:

1.     Pray – Pray for the hostages, those suffering losses, and peace in the Middle East.
Pray for leaders to make good, right, and just decisions that value and protect life.
2.     Empathize - Reach out to those impacted by the war. It may be family, friends, colleagues, or others from the Middle East. Share your concerns and listen.
3.     Learn - Talk with people from the Middle East or read to understand better.
4.     Be sensitive - Aggression and war affect people differently, especially those who have been to war or combat zones. Listen and assist the individual to receive additional help.
 
Until then, we press on and do our best to share the Good News of the Gospel with all who will listen.

Pray with me: God, I trust in your ultimate plan for peace and justice, knowing that one day, under the reign of Jesus Christ, wars and conflicts will cease. Until that day, guide us to be instruments of your peace, carrying the message of hope and reconciliation. In your name, we pray. Amen.

By Rev. Kay Dubuisson