#HolyWomenHolyLand: The Key

One of the people we met on this trip told us: “The two most dangerous things to lose are hope and fear.”  Our next experience painted that truth in living color. This is going to be a hard post to read; it was hard to write.  Monday afternoon we paid a visit to the Aida Refugee Camp, a Palestinian Refugee Camp in the West Bank.  Established in 1950, about 3500 people live in a very small space with no privacy,… Read more

#HolyWomenHolyLand: In Her Own Words

On Monday we started our day in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity, traditionally celebrated as the birthplace of Jesus.  The experience was much like other Christian sites in the Holy Land: overly ornate and run by different Christian groups jockeying for ownership and control.  All around the church, however, the atmosphere felt tense.  Palestinians largely populate Bethlehem, and political and social conflict is high. We spent most of the morning meeting with powerful women working to transform their society from… Read more

#HolyWomenHolyLand: “It’s Complicated”

“If you save one life, you save the whole world.—Talmud” On Monday we started diving even deeper into the modern, conflicted life of this beautiful land.  We began by making a pilgrimage to Yad VaShem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center.  Designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, the building is shaped like a triangle, half of a star of David, reminding visitors that over half of the world’s entire Jewish population was lost in the Holocaust.  To make your way through… Read more

#HolyWomenHolyLand: Triumphal Nationalism & Secret Longing…the Powerful Words of Israeli Women

It was Sunday morning, and some of the group went to church.  I did not.  Christianity in Jerusalem is complicated; it’s not easy to find the nearest Baptist church and just show up.  So while our group’s Episcopal priest (Rev. Winnie Varghese) led a small group to St. George’s Anglican Church for morning services, the remainder of the group had almost two hours with Dr. Rachel Korazim, a noted expert in the field of Jewish education. As it turns out,… Read more

#HolyWomenHolyLand: Balagan

At lunch on Saturday, Shabbat, our Jewish sisters gave us an in-depth history of Israel, specifically as it relates to the Zionist movement.  Truth be told, most of the Christians on the trip had a very surface understanding of Israel’s history and the complicated threads of religion and identity and trauma that inform the way many American Jews think about Israel.  This conversation laid critical and important groundwork for the experiences of the next few days.  But before we started exploring the conflict between… Read more

#HolyWomenHolyLand: Dream the Future Different

On Friday morning we took a train ride in the most northern neighborhood in Jerusalem, Pisgat Ze’ev, which really is a Jewish settlement built after 1967. It is the largest neighborhood in Israel with over 60.000 people living there. The very next stop on the light rail was the Palestinian neighborhood of Shoafat, where 16-year-old Muhammad Abukader was kidnapped and burned alive as revenge for the tragic and brutal killing of 3 Israeli boys in the West Bank.  Because of… Read more

#HolyWomenHolyLand: I Come to the Garden…With a Whole Group of Holy Women

We, ironically, began our interfaith tour at yet another very Christian place: the Garden of Gethsemane. We wandered into the church at that site and then gathered next to the fence around the garden.  I tried again there to explain the significance of the place, and as I did I suddenly and surprisingly began to feel emotional.  Tears sprang to my eyes as I tried to explain. Have you ever felt that your vocation demands more from you than you… Read more

#HolyWomenHolyLand: Jesus Tour

The next few posts are reflections on a trip to Israel/Palestine this month.  Follow me @PastorAmyTRC on FB or Twitter, or search the hashtag #HolyWomenHolyLand to see even more from me and my colleagues. Six rabbis and five pastors travel to the Holy Land…but first: Knowing that an interfaith group spending a week and a half talking about very intense conflict was going to require information and perspective I didn’t yet have, it seemed important to try to get my feet… Read more

Goodbye, 2017. Bring it on, 2018!

Goodbye, 2017.  I can’t say that I’m going to miss you all that much; I think even you’d agree that our relationship has been rather difficult.  As a brand new year begins, I’d like to remind you of some of the things you brought us: We’ve had a whole year now with a president who is objectively unhinged, persisting in his attempts to institute a travel ban that discriminates against our Muslim brothers and sisters.  We experienced the loss of… Read more

Rise

Rise Rev. Dr. Amy Butler Luke 2:22-40 Today we’re still talking about gifts, and we’re rounding out our series on Simple Gifts by naming the gift of presence.  You know, not the brightly wrapped packages under the tree, but presence, being intentionally in relationship. It’s loved ones who traveled from far away and grandchildren running around excited and dear friends with whom we share the holiday.  It’s you, right here, sitting in a pew this morning or watching online.  It’s… Read more

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