Day one of our trip to trip to the Holy Land started after a good night’s sleep. One of the interesting things about being in Israel is the time difference. Israel is 8 hours ahead of our normal time in Petal, MS. So, I work up at midnight, ready to go.
Because back home, instead of a night’s sleep, your body feels like its just getting a quick nap, and you want to wake up. So, you make yourself sleep, just to reset the clock. So, then you wake up, and you want to go right to bed.
Because back home, it’s bed time.
Anyway, part of the journey of the first day is getting your body clock ready to go!
Our first day had a lot of great things (by the way, you can see all my pictures on Facebook). We went to, Caesarea by the Sea, where Paul demanded to go to Rome for trial; to Mt. Carmel, where Elijah faced down the prophets of Ba’al; to Zippori, a town that was called the Ornament of Galilee, a large town that was being rebuild in Jesus day, it’s possible that He and Joseph worked that, and it is also possible that was the image that Jesus had in mind when He talked about “a City on a Hill.” And last we went to Nazareth and the Church of the Annunciation, where Mary received the word from God that she would be the mother to Jesus.
But, for me, the thing that was most impactful was my lunch.
Our bus driver this trip is a man named Mike. Mike works with JIBE (the Jerusalem institute for Biblical Exploration). Mike may be the most amazing driver I’ve ever seen in my life. He can maneuver a bus in ways that the typical human being just can’t.
Mike was also our driver when I came to Israel in 2007. I remembered him immediately (a man who can drive that well is hard to forget) but I was sure that he didn’t remember me. After all, he has seen literally thousands of folks the last few years.
But, he remembered me and the folks that I came with last time.
And, over lunch, he gave me one of the greatest honors I’ve ever received.
He invited me to sit down and each lunch with him. I cannot tell you what a big deal that is in this culture. To be invited to share a meal a sign of deep respect and friendship. Mike extended hospitality and friendship to me in a deep and personal way.
To be asked to share a meal in this culture is accepting someone into your life, in community, into friendship.
No matter what happens in my life, or in Mike’s life, for the rest of our lives, we are friends.
I can’t tell you how humbling that is.
To feel that acceptance and friendship is a deeply powerful thing.
And I will never forget it.
Today, may we show hospitality and friendship to all that we meet. And may we love them with the love that God has given us.