Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In Jerusalem!

Note: This series of posts is based on my 1999 trip to Turkey and Israel. I have introduced a new character (Ariel) to help me discuss some topics that I think are pertinent to the purpose of this blog. 
I awoke wondering where I was, and then remembered - I was in Jerusalem! We arrived at night and so I wanted to see what the view was like from our 10 story room. I walked to the window and pulled back the curtain which caused my roommate Joe to let out a groan. I immediately saw that we were up on a hill with other hills around us. The hill in front of me had a series of 3-4 story buildings that lined descending shaded streets. Some of the streets had only one building separating them from the next street. There was some greenery with an occasional palm tree, but the overall color impression was various shades of sandstone. 
I had read on a map that the Shalom Jerusalem hotel was a 10 minute drive from the center of Jerusalem and close to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. That must be in the opposite direction because I didn’t see anything like that in front of me. After showering and putting on my casual clothes for the day, I headed to the elevator. I remembered the shiny floor of the lobby and the complimentary glass of orange juice that was given to each of us upon our late night arrival; a nice gesture that made me think positively of the hotel. The breakfast spread continued the trend I’d seen in Tel Aviv and Tiberius; lots of fruit, healthy cereals, and yogurt - but no meat, lest we break the rabbinic restriction of mixing meat and dairy. All of this was still new and almost exotic when I would see Hebrew letters on packaging or signs. 
I was sipping my coffee and eating yogurt as I thought about my talk with Ariel last night: 

We were heading south along the Jordan river and I was growing tired of watching the landscape blur by in the twilight when Ariel moved over to sit next to me and said, “You haven’t told me anything about yourself.” 
I didn’t want to get into a long story, so I tried to keep it simple; “I’m from a remote part of Michigan and was raised as a Lutheran, which means I was baptized as an infant, confirmed, and, aside from attending a few youth meetings, rarely went to church because my parents didn’t. I was invited to a Bible camp by a Baptist friend and made a decision for Christ when I was a senior. The Vietnam war was raging when I graduated from high school. Since I didn’t have the means to avoid the draft, and had never been more than 150 miles from home, I joined the Navy to see the world. I was assigned to an aircraft carrier out of Norfolk, with the rating of Photographic Intelligence. I made two Med cruises and one to England. On my last cruise in 1970, a conflict called Black September occurred when the Jordanians kicked Arafat out of Jordan. We were on high alert for a month off the coast of Israel and I got to look at some pretty cool reconnaissance photos of the middle east. Being a brand new Christian wasn’t easy in the Navy and I had my ups and downs. When I got out of the service I went to Bethel college in Minnesota and finally graduated from Northern Michigan university. Soon after that, I got married and began to take my spiritual life more seriously. We now have two kids. I started to learn more about the Jewishness of Jesus about 10 years ago and it too has had its ups and downs. At first, there weren’t a lot of books on the subject, and some teachers I read turned out to be going in the wrong direction. But, overall, it’s been a fascinating journey and has greatly enhanced my understanding of the Bible. During this time I would find myself saying, ‘why wasn’t I taught this? or why do we teach that instead?’ It drove me to study church history because I wanted to find out when, how, and why the errors occurred.” At this point, I directed a question to Ariel, “If you have any insight as to how the Church got off track from where it was in the first century, please let me know. That’s pretty much it. What about your background?”
I could tell he was preparing his sentences. “You may consider this disingenuous, but I cannot tell you many of the details of my family, my conversion to the Messianic movement, or my current activities.” At this point, he leaned closer and spoke softer, “The situation is too sensitive at this time for me to disclose more. But, I can tell you that I am from a prominent conservative Jewish family in the U.S and that I came to faith in Yeshua around 10 years ago. I am here on a special visit; in fact, you may be involved with some of it. But that too, is sensitive and we’ll talk more about that tomorrow.” 
Tomorrow was now today; I got up to discard my trash and selected a pastry from a tray.
And then, near the elevators, I saw Ariel talking with our team leader Dave. They stopped and exchanged words until I could see them nod in agreement; at that point they walked over towards me. Dave said, “Morning Dennis, how’s the breakfast?” “I like breakfast in Israel; there’s always something healthy and good,” as I self consciously held the pastry. “Please join us; we have something we’d like to talk to you about,” said Dave. I waited until they got some food and let them choose the table. When they did, Dave said he’d pray the blessing. With our heads bowed, he thanked the Lord for the food.
Dave spoke first, “Ariel is going to go with us when we visit Reuben tonight.” Ariel added, “But, I won’t be joining your tour today, as I have a few places to go and people to meet. We’ll all meet here for supper tonight and then go together.”
to be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment