What Determines Significance

June 22, 2007

gethsemane-olive-tree.jpg

 Each person seemed to meditate on different things in the quiet of Gethsemane two weeks ago.  For fifteen minutes, I seemed to reflect on the old olive trees.  What makes these olive trees significant among the thousands that are scattered all over Isreal and the Mount of Olives?  Are they the oldest trees surviving?   Are they the biggest?  Many sites seemed to claim significance by virtue of claims to the first, the biggest, the highest, the lowest, the oldest, etc.  But it occurred to me that these olive trees derive their significance only by virtue of what happened there and Who did it.  This is where Jesus asked the Father if there was any other way, please make it so.  And the Father said, “No, this is possible.”  As my friends Al and Dolores shared later, the Father said “No, because this is the only way Al and Dolores can have eternal life.”  That historical eventgethsemane1.jpg makes all the details of this place significant.  (The Garden of Gethsemane is just to the left of the Russian Church, the top of the Mount of Olives being on the right)  I wrote in my journal:

I am an olive tree.  What is happening with me and Who is doing it?  My significance is determined by the extent to which Jesus abides in me and what He does with me while He abides.  I’m not a whole lot different from millions of other olive trees, but I can be a very special one to the extent to which the Lord Jesus moves through me in modern historical events.

The overarching residue from this entire trip was that everything, the Sea of Galiliee, the cities, the rocks and their ruins, and even the climate, all derived their significance by what took place there and who did it.

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Why Tour Israel?

June 12, 2007

I just returned from our “Holy Land Tour” which surpassed all expectations.  Reflectively, I still ask, “What was it?”  Was it a pilgrimage?  No, because I think of a pilgrimage as an act of worship during which some kind of special grace is bestowed to the pilgrim.  Was it simply a study trip?   No, because because a study trip is about learning facts for their intellectual or historical interest.  I think of this trip as a visit to the places where God chose to reveal Himself in special ways.  Therefore the things we see and the places we visit are not significant in their own right.  They are significant by virtue of what happened there and who did it.  So this trip was about experiencing the settings in which the historical roots of our faith took place so that the biblical accounts become more vivid, clearly grounded in historical reality, and therefore more a part of my walk of faith.