An Everlasting Name
Today is our last day of pilgrimage in the Holy Land, and no trip to the Holy Land would be complete without a visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in the northern suburbs of Israel on Mt. Herschel.
The meaning of the words Yad Vashem in English is essentially, "everlasting name," and comes from Isaiah 56:5, which reads: "To them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever."
The 2-3 hour tour through Yad Vashem is an incredibly sobering and heart-wrenching experience. As you walk through the exhibits, you feel as though you are traveling deeper and deeper into darkness.
I have found myself being brought to tears of repentance as I read the way that Christians all over the world twisted Scripture and did violence to the Gospel in order to justify not only their participation in the Holocaust, but also their indifference to it.
How that must have wounded the heart of Christ!
But as hard as it is to believe that people claiming to follow Jesus would be a part of something so inhuman and so antithetical to what Jesus taught and lived by example, it's even harder to accept that we're still turning a blind eye to suffering... Or, worse yet, we're contributing to it.
And in so doing, we wound the heart of Christ anew.
When we turn our hearts to stone against refugees from tyranny, war and persecution... we wound the heart of Christ.
When we are ambivalent at best and indifferent at worst to the plight of people who are even now the victims of genocide because of the actions of evil dictators... we wound the heart of Christ.
When we consume and consume with little thought to the effects our cheap and plentiful good have on the developing world... we wound the heart of Christ.
When we turn away from neighbors of ours who are different--in skin color, religion, politics, beliefs or class... we wound the heart of Christ.
When we keep the Gospel bottled up, and decide who gets to hear it, who gets to accept it, and who gets to journey with us as we follow Jesus... we wound the heart of Christ.
We are called to greater things. The kingdom of God demands it of us.
As our band of pilgrims journeys home, we do so filled with memories of a land that is still torn and divided by old hatreds and ancient wounds. We are filled with sorrow at the lack of peace, but we are also filled with defiant hope that God will one day heal this Holy Land once again.
And we also return with a new sense of purpose that comes from having our feet covered in the dust of the very land where our faith was born. We are called to be peacemakers. We are called to embody the kingdom of God and be the hands and feet of Christ.
We rededicate ourselves to this task in the name of Jesus, who is with us always. Amen.