Having finished packing my luggage only hours before departure, one of my last things to do is to sit down and write this article. From January 5th to January 14th I will be touring the “Holy Land” along with 41 others members and friends of First Baptist Church of Augusta. This will be my second tour of Israel but for most in our group it will be their first. For all of us it will be an opportunity to experience the land where the Bible comes alive as we tour such notable places as Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee and of course Jerusalem. Sacred places.
One does not need to travel to the other side of the world, however, to experience sacred places. While it is quite moving to visit the places where Jesus walked and taught and served, places made sacred are not exclusively reserved for the footsteps of Jesus. For Henry David Thoreau, it was a small cabin on the edge of Walden. For the relatively small number of Creek Indians it was a rock formation in the shape of an eagle in middle Georgia. For the new parents it is the sterile enclosure of a delivery room where they saw their newborn for the first time. Sacred space. We do not always name our memorable points as sacred, but that is what they are – sacred, holy. It may be your grandmother’s kitchen thick with the smell of biscuits out of the oven and coffee whisping in the air. It may be a favorite oak tree from the family home place where you once watched the passing of the afternoon sun of summer. Sacred. Holy. Places that are alive to us still and we now know that surely God was present, even if such a presence was simply as a quiet observer, like a mother periodically glancing out the kitchen window to make sure the kids are okay.
The geography of the Bible is scattered with sacred spaces and holy terrain. There was a burning bush and a bare foot Moses. Another time God sanctified Mt. Horeb with a silent whisper and a hushed Elijah. There is an empty tomb somewhere in Jerusalem and a road to Emmaus is a holy reminder that God was there.
While I am walking over the ground of Jerusalem and reflect on the footsteps of Jesus I will also be thinking of the sacred steps Christ has walked with me throughout my life. I will also be thinking of you dear church, where Christ continues to walk with us reclaiming the mundane and redeeming the profane and creating sacred spaces for all.
In the end, we are all wandering through the Holy Land.