Hola, todo el mundo!
It is always rewarding to introduce the biblical cultures to those from a culture not my own. These days I am in Jerusalem with dear friends from Puerto Rico. They are exceptional learners but excellent teachers as well. I’ve learned much from them about how Caribbean peoples read the Scriptures and also at what points they make special contact with the peoples of the ancient near east. Still, in many ways, all of those who come to this “Land of Faith,” since the days of early Christian pilgrimmage, come with the same eyes and the same hearts.
St. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem in the 4th century, challenged pilgrims at the Church of the Anastasis in Jerusalem “to receive and to release” on their visit. For many, the pilgrimmage was the culmination of a conversion to Christianity begun in their hearts and now confirmed with their eyes. We challenge those who come on our trips to be open to what God has for them in this land. They WILL receive something here. Some gain a new-found appreciation for the reality and truth of the Scriptures. For others fires of compassion are lit in cold hearts, now warm to peoples for whom there had been only indifference. All come away with something new, a new thing that God begins to do in them because they’ve come here.
Of equal interest to me is what pilgrims feel free to release while in this land. Burdens carried for years, old grudges, nurtured anger that has festered in lives and left them joyless. The cross gets it all, and Jesus is glorified. We walk together here in a shared experience of faith following hard after Christ.
So to my friends from Puerto Rico and to all of you who have taken these steps with me: Gracias y bendiciones! May our great God continue to do a work in you that for many of you began in this land of faith.