Happy and Sad

Some of you are aware of this already, but I wanted to let others know that I am on my way to the Middle East to travel with what is called the Middle East Travel Seminar (METS). It is a three week trip where I will travel with seminarians from other schools to travel throughout the Middle East, visiting archaeological sites and exchanging ideas regarding the church, the Bible, and Christianity. I feel extremely blessed to be able to be on this trip and plan on blogging about my time over the next few weeks. I don’t think I’ll be able to post pictures, but if I can, I will.

We leave tonight for Damascus – one of the oldest cities in the world. Rich with biblical significance, this will be an opportunity to see and smell the city.

My prayer is that I will grow in my understanding the biblical story so as to help the people God entrusts to my care as a pastor. Please pray for my wife and me as we will be apart for these three weeks. We thought we got all our crying out on Friday night, but found we had more tears on Saturday morning when I flew out to ATL for briefing time. Please pray we would love Jesus more, trust him more, and grow stronger in our marriage and devotion to God.

One thought I want to share already is the fact that although it is beneficial to visit the biblical sites, the New Covenant floors us with the truth that the temple of God dwells in those who have built there life on the chief cornerstone – Jesus Christ. He holds us together by the word of his power. While I will definitely be blessed with my time with others and seeing the sites, as a Christian pilgrimmage is no longer “necessary” in the sense that it is a discipline we must complete. This is the beauty of the fact that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us – “tabernacling” among us. We rejoice in the fact that the Temple is now the people of God. Wherever they go, they take the sweet fragrance of Christ with them. Pilgrimmage is not a spiritual discipline. Yes, it is a blessing to visit. But tranfers of grace do not accumulate in my storehouse of faith. I may touch the Wailing Wall, and may even pray there. But God will not hear my prayers any better there than he did this morning when I was eating breakfast in the hotel.

Comments 8

  1. Going on a journey like a pilgrimage is much like fasting. At least, back in the olden days, it was a DIFFICULT thing to go on a pilgrimage. And just as God tends to be that little more attentive to those who have fasting (see book of Jonah), sure God will be a little more attentive to someone who has gone through the difficulties to a pilgrimage.

    Anyway, I get your point, but I don’t think you should completely downplay the spiritual value of a pilgrimage. Besides, you shouldn’t you shouldn’t be talking and eating at the same time, you know :)

    Enjoy the trip, and be sure to keep all us bloggers in your prayers.

  2. This is Joel,

    Have a great time man; I’ll be praying for you and I can’t wait to hear how your trip was!

  3. I just read that Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Sounds like an awesome trip. There’s is still a Straight Street there, which is where God directed Paul to find the house of Judas in Acts 9:10-12.

  4. Damascus is also the city where Abram beat the stuffing out of those kings of the East. He beat them all the way to Damascus and they ran home with their tails between their legs. (Just read that last night).

  5. Blessings on your trip Matt. May your understanding of the Scriptures and the world they were produced in grow so that you can continue to point people to Jesus.

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