Holy Land Musings - a Star, a Stable and a Cross

I'm writing this blog on scraps of paper at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, surrounded by Rob Cotton and the team who are returning from a recce tour of the Holy Land in preparation of our two Biblefresh tours due to take place in 2011.  The Holy Land, embracing both Israel and Palestine, produces a varying mix of emotions from the calm and tranquility of the Tiberius region, which takes in the shores of Galilee, through to the melting pot of Jerusalem, where the three great monotheistic religions are all vying for supremacy and territory. though a wonderful place I find myself, at times, bewildered and baffled by our need to occupy and possess. 

A star
One of the sights we visited was a place called Shepherd's Field, located on the West Bank, near Bethlehem.  It would have been where the shepherds tended their sheep and on that historic night encountered the angels preparing them for Jesus' birth.  The Wise Men, of course, saw the star and it got me thinking about how the star, as a sign of the coming of Christ, could not, like this land, be contained within barricades and walls, for it was outside of all that.  The coming of Christ transcends all our dividing barriers and following in his footsteps means that we too are not bound by geography or possession of a land.

A stable
What is it about a baby that makes us feel more human?  Is it the innocence?  Is it the empathy with a child-like spirit?  As I reflected on the nativity scene during this trip I was reminded again of a Mary who said 'yes', a God fearing carpenter who boldly co-operated, and the coming of a baby that helps us shed the hard cell of cynicism that we so often surround ourselves with.  The coming of Jesus heralded a new stage in God's unfolding facet of himself to mankind.  No longer was he just a God of power, lightning and majesty; he now showed us his identification with mankind and not only helps us reconcile ourselves to God but also to ourselves for the child-like spirit is rekindled in each one of us as we take time to gaze on the wonder of the birth.

A cross
On a previous trip I was struck by the significance of us as a group of Christians gathering on a hill overlooking Jerusalem, though it was peaceful and quiet, below us was the hubbub of the city sounds and behind me and the worship band stood a simple wooden cross.  As we worshipped that day, together we began to take in the view from a different standpoint, a higher place, if you like, where all of the hustle and bustle of this magnificent city below is seen through the focus and the lens of the eternal symbol of God's love for mankind, the cross.

A star that can't be subjugated to time or place, a stable, the birthplace of the arrival of a child,  and a cross that shapes our view and perspective.  Surely God is still speaking through these time honoured symbols.