February 2011


A poet
is someone
who can pour light
into a cup
then offer it
to refresh
your beautiful
parched
and
holy
heart.

Hafiz

 

The Judean Desert is an area with a special morphological structure along the east of the Judean mountains. It stretches from the northeastern Negev to the east of Beit El, and is marked by terraces with escarpments. It ends in a steep escarpment dropping to the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley. The Judean Desert is crossed by numerous wadis from northeast to southeast, and has many deep canyons. Elevation ranges from 1,200 feet in the west to 600 feet in the east.

Nahal Darga in the Judean desert

The Judean desert lies east of Jerusalem and descends to the Dead Sea. Rainfall in the Judea region varies from 400–500 millimetres (16–20 in) in the western hills, rising to 600 millimetres (24 in) around western Jerusalem (in central Judea), falling back to 400 millimetres (16 in) in eastern Jerusalem and dropping to around 100mm in the eastern parts, due to a rainshadow effect. The climate ranges from Mediterranean in the west and desert climate in the east, with a strip of steppe climate in the middle. Major urban areas in the region include Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, Jericho and Hebron.

<!– 13 –>

The Temptation of Jesus

4Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ 4But he answered, ‘It is written,
“One does not live by bread alone,
   but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ’

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you”,
   and “On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’

 

The Garden Tomb is believed by many to be the garden and sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea, and therefore a possible site of the resurrection of Jesus. The Garden is owned and administered by The Garden Tomb ( Jerusalem) Association, a Charitable Trust based in the United Kingdom.

The Garden Tomb is a quiet place preserved for worship and reflection. Here are some pictures

Matthew 4.13-23

13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 ‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
   on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people who sat in darkness
   have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
   light has dawned.’
17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’* <!– 18 –>

18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

 and they raised the Union Jack  for us and played the National Anthem!

Last month I was fortunate to be able to go to Israel (10th -17th of January). I has been a very transformative experience and given me a great deal to reflect upon. I plan to share some of the images over the next few days…..

May the God who called our father Abraham to journey into the unknown, and guarded him and blessed him, protect me too and bless my journey.

May his confidence support me as I set out, may his spirit be with me on the way, and may he lead me back to my home in peace.

Those I love, I commend to his care. He is with them, I shall not fear.

As for myself, may his presence be my companion, so that blessing may come to me and to everyone I meet.

Blessed are you, Lord. Whose presence travels with his people.

 

The invitation from the Chief Executive Office of the Council for Christians and Jews to join a group of clergy on a visit to Israel came as a welcome surprise. The aim of the visit was to take an overview and to grapple and explore the present situation in Israel in the context of its conflicts over land and borders. The tour of twelve clergy was led by the Bishop of Manchester who is the Chairman of the Council for Christian and Jews.

It was a transformative experience. We travelled throughout the country over eight full days into the heart of the historic narratives that shape and disfigure our understanding of what might make for peace in this troubled land.

Here are some pictures from the visitChurch of  the Mount of the Beatitudes.  

Matthew 5

<!– 5 –>

The Beatitudes

5When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely* on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. <!– 13 –>

13 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. <!– 17 –>

Capernaum: The town of  Jesus

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ 23He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.” ’ 24And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. 25

Silence is living, dynamic, and liberating. The practice of silence nourishes vigilance, self-knowledge, letting go, and the compassionate embrace of all whom we would otherwise be quick to condemn. Gradually we realize that whatever it is in us that sees the mind games we play is itself free of all such mind games and is utterly silent, pure, vast and free.

When we realize we are the awareness and not the drama unfolding in our awareness our lives a freer, simpler, more compassionate.

Fear remains frightening but we are not afraid of fear.

Pain still hurts, but we are not hurt by pain.

THE PEACE of great doors be for you.
Wait at the knobs, at the panel oblongs.
Wait for the great hinges.

The peace of great churches be for you,
Where the players of loft pipe organs
Practice old lovely fragments, alone.

The peace of great books be for you,
Stains of pressed clover leaves on pages,
Bleach of the light of years held in leather.

From Carl Sandburg, For You

Next Page »