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.