From Barbara Hiura
So many places, so much information…that we are filled to capacity before even entering our final day in Jerusalem…and yet…God fills us to overflowing. Tears flow and powerful emotions overtake many of us, as we witness, walk the walk, follow the torturous path that Jesus took to His death along the Via Dolorosa, called the 14 Stations of the Cross. See how He suffered for us.
The noises along the way of merchants selling their wares was much like it was when Jesus, a common criminal, passed that way to be crucified 2000 years ago, but now there are other pilgrims and penitents going in the same direction as the Wesley group. Many of us are finding we struggle ourselves just walking that uphill climb to Golgotha. I admit that as I went from station to station, I was a mere shutter-flicking bystander, an observer, almost irreverent at these various Holy places and shrines as I even tried to imagine Jesus, beaten and bloodied, taking one agonizing step after another, bearing the weight cross to his execution, as our tour guide passed on a mountain of information at each stop.
Bringing me back to Jesus’ Passion were the Bible verses read at each stop. I grew heavy and burdened with my own sins feeling so unworthy of God’s sacrifice for me, so unworthy of God’s saving grace, humbled at the immensity of Jesus’ suffering in order to pay our debt to God, to atone for our sins. Such cruelty, such inhumanity, such an injustice—but all necessary if we were to be saved. God is compassionate. And God’s love for us is bountiful, unending, as He sees the beauty in each of us.
We end out tour at the Garden Tomb where Rev. Motoe led a worship service and Holy Communion and Carolyn provided guitar music as she’s done almost every evening throughout the journey. Rev. Motoe reflected on our trip, from Jesus birth, ministry, death and resurrection and the Holy and Sacred places we visited on our journey with Jesus. “Here is Jesus body broken for you. Here is Jesus blood shed for you.” In this place, the impact of Jesus’ sacrifice, strikes my soul. Is the Holy Spirit not present in us at such a time, in such a moment? In every breath we take?
And then she asks, “How has this journey changed you? What will you do differently when you go home? How are you a new person?
Difficult questions, yet indeed, each in our own way has been changed. How could we not be? All 39 of us grew in the knowing of each other, grew in building relationship. We became family on this pilgrimage. We became God’s church even though we differ in faith. And that is what God’s wants from each of us—not to proceed in isolation and alone—but by His grace, be in touch and touching one another.
Many of us began this trip by expressing one or two words of what we were feeling about this journey. Hear their voices: Don, “Being with friends”; Jackie, “Excitement”; Violet “Agape, unconditional love”; Mae , “Investigation”; Hi, “Reaffirmation”; Lupe, “Thanksgiving for a chance to be where Jesus Christ was”; Roy, “Peace”; Carol, “Contentment”; Bernard, “Jesus, The Gospel”; Aron, “Fulfillment”; Betty, “Hallelujah, I’m here”; Nancy, “Religious fulfillment”; Crystal, “Revelation”; Lydia, “Holy Spirit”; Dorothy, “Inspired”; Paula, “Faitfulness”; Tami, “Stronger in Faith”; Selma, “Inspiration on our Lenten journey”; Mitsue, “Hope”; Pat, “Learning”; Shirley, “Spiritual Growth”; Pat, “Education”; Esther, “Long awaited”; Mareille, “Enlightenment”; Tad, “Imagine how it was 2000 years ago”; Rosie, “Shalom”; Warren, “Being here”; Grace, “Peace and Hope”; Lillian, “Ephiphany”; Mona, “Amazement”; and I said, “Blessing.”
By the end, all our thoughts received responses, our queries answered, our quests completed…and yes, we’ve received so much more, especially in the many unpredictable God moments experienced but not anticipated. God has blessed us and guided us in our learning, in our fellowship and the growth we experienced, and for many a blossoming of love for Jesus, and truly an affirmation of faith.