Making a Movement Rev. Dr. Amy Butler Mark 11:1-11 There was bright sunshine warming the cool air as thousands of people gathered in the streets, chanting and waving, singing and marching.  They were there because they wanted change to come, because they’d been invited to gather to make a statement with their very presence.  That was the scene more than 2000 years ago in the streets of Jerusalem, the day we remember today. Welcome to the start of Holy Week,… Read more

“We have had enough.  All we want is this: we want you to come to the table and figure things out.” The statement sounds a bit like it’s coming from an exasperated mother, sick and tired of hearing her children squabble with each other.  And in a manner of speaking, that’s exactly what it is. Spurred on by what has become a deadlock, a hopeless political standoff, women from all over Israel and Palestine have risen up to demand peace. … Read more

This week in particular it seems appropriate to continue reporting on the #HolyWomenHolyLand trip with a quote from non-violent Palestinian activist and political leader Issa Amro, who met with our group after an emotional walk through the formerly bustling Palestinian city of Hebron. Issa Amro grew up in the city of Hebron.  He was in college when the Second Intifada began and the presence of Israeli troops in the West Bank increased significantly.  During that time Issa began to realize… Read more

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

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

“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

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

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

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

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

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