Monday, 14 July 2008

A Visit to the Holy Land

My Dear People,

I thought I should drop you this line on my recent trip to the Holy Land, squeezed into my schedule just before Lungi and I left for the Lambeth Conference.

The trip was made at the invitation of a diverse group of South Africans concerned with justice in Israel and the Occupied Territories. They have a website, and you can see the Mission Statement of the visit here:

http://www.humanrightsdelegation.org/statements.asp

Also on the website is other information, such as the names of those who travelled with me, and press clippings of coverage while we were there:

http://www.humanrightsdelegation.org/statements.asp

As I write this, there is so much raw data in my mind and soul that I need more space and time to reflect on and process my experiences. The issues raised by the situation in the Middle East are sensitive, and maintaining a balance in our approach is crucial.

Nevertheless, as a preliminary reflection, what is uppermost in my mind can be categorised into three sections.

First, the physical and superficial - the topography of the Holy Land, the separation walls and fence which set people apart from one another, the separate roads on the West Bank on which only Israeli settlers are allowed to travel, the robust and solid settlements the settlers have established, and the old and new Jerusalem, clearly divided into Jewish and Palestinian areas.

Second and at a slightly deeper level, I was struck by the people, their pain and their longing for peace and for the Holy Basin to be whole again.

At a third level are my personal and spiritual responses: my wrestling with God and God's invitation in Mark's Gospel, to come and let us cross to the other side. Crossing to the other side is a missional invitation that needs courage and humility and rootedness in the sure hope of a call.

Following this short visit, I am humbled and encouraged by those who build peace - and feel moved to invite others to be peace builders. It is obviously costly but we cannot but be stirred by suffering, separation, brokenness and God's sure message of hope.

God bless you,

++Thabo

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Thanks for your feedback! Archbishop Thabo