The Israeli checkpoints have the same feel as their Cold War antecedents: young military guards with automatic weapons. As you approach, you hope they are busy or bored and not feeling aggressive or confrontational. The latter is always a risk as research shows that simply the presence of weapons significantly increases aggressive cognition, hostile appraisals, and aggressive behavior.
In an era of instant photos and posts, what would it be like to remember this story and the suffering and oppression that is in the rocky soil we traverse? Pilgrimage is in remembering the shared grief and in the solidarity that binds us and them, wherever us and them may be.
Pilgrimage is telling our story. What we experienced begs to be told. We walked in the footsteps of Christ learning the realities of life for Palestinian, Arab, and Israeli Christians, Muslims, and Jews today.
We set out as 35 pilgrims to explore Israel/Palestine in a pilgrimage of learning, laughter, and tears. We encountered stories of promise, hope, and struggle in the Holy Land.
When the brewery down the street promotes itself as being “mission-driven,” what is the church to do? When the coffee shop around the corner is crowned the neighborhood’s favorite “third space,” what is the church to do? When atheists’ gatherings and AA meetings tout life-transforming engagement, what is the church to do? And when 7 minute TED Talks garner millions of clicks, views, and shares, what is the church to do?
While the social theory of “like attracts like” may have some results, sadly, the theological implication of the HUP is devoid of the gospel of the kingdom. The gospel of the kingdom breaks down the walls that divide, brings together people who eat meat and those who don’t, unites Gentiles and Jews, male and female, marginalized and privileged, and on and on.
Sermons that preach justice are the adult version of bad children’s Sunday school classes. The scriptures we interpret have a moral lesson to them, usually something to the effect that God wants us to practice non-violent resistance (aka don’t hit our siblings), be radically inclusive (aka be nice to our peers), and work towards economic equality (aka share our toys).
This socio-scientific data tells us that we people of faith need to respond to the earth with radical love. We do so with the understanding that our collective “we” power is more powerful than our individual actions.
Face it: in ministry there will be criticism. We will be criticized. Especially when we’re at the forefront of what God is doing “next” in the church.
Ever since I was welcomed into the Presbyterian Church (USA) I have encountered the words “inclusion” and “inclusive”… a lot. As someone who has a brother affected by a cognitive disability and a mom who struggles with addiction and mental illness, these words meant good news and hope. However, as I committed myself to disability studies, I discovered these words were actually lacking depth.