Thursday, April 28, 2016


This morning, in about two and a half hours, I prayed in three holy places. First, we came to the Western Wall. We made our way through the crowds on this last day of Passover to offer our prayers to God. From there we proceeded to the Temple Mount, to the Dome of the Rock. We were not allowed to pray inside the mosque but we spent some time on that holy ground. And then from there we went along to St. Ann's Church - St. Ann being the name the tradition has given to the mother of Mary, the grandmother of Jesus.

(Or, as the priest there called her, "Granny Annie") The congregation is built next to the pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. (See John 5.) We offered and received prayers of healing and anointing there among our band of pilgrims.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is a little known one - it's Genesis 25:9. (Unfortunately it never comes up in the Sunday lectionary.) But in that text, two brothers - two sons of the same father - come together to bury Abraham and say their goodbyes. And then they go their separate ways...

Boy, have we gone our separate ways! Yet we are children of Abraham: Jew and Muslim and Christian. All of us. A generation after Isaac and Ishmael, and to this very day, we are (according to our sacred texts) cousins.

As this pilgrimage nears its end, I am praying for the peace of Jerusalem - at the Wall, at the Dome, at the Pool of Bethesda. I believe God hears all those prayers and not mine only but those of all who come, praying in many languages. The question is this: are we listening to God, and to the prayers of our cousins?

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