Stewardship Lessons from the Holy Land
January 18, 2023 Creekwood United Methodist Church

Perceived Value - Deep Thoughts

Posted in Advent 2022, Deep Thoughts

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Help Along The Way

#1 :: A Guide Makes All the Difference

Person at a wall in Israel Via Delorosa Ancient roadway Israel

It is certainly doable to navigate Israel, Jordan, and Egypt in 17 days on your own…but I don’t advise it. The pace was quick, the amount of things to do and see was abundant, the culture and history foreign, and the streets crowded and noisy. On top of logistical support, the guides are full of detail, knowledge, and help bring the geography, history, and culture of the Biblical times to life! Even for someone like me who has studied the Bible fairly extensively, it was like drinking through a firehose at times as they taught and guided us through the very pathways that Jesus walked.

Sometimes, it was a bit much. Moustafa (pictured left) is working on his Ph.D. in Egyptology, so he had a lot to say. Our guide in Jordan (not pictured), repeated the same points more than a preacher giving an hour long sermon. There were times when we thought, “it’d be better if we could just go and explore on our own.” But then we’d have moments like Magadala with Mick (pictured right) in which he would point out tiny details like the road block meant to keep the Romans out, or the place where Jesus would have stood to teach, that I would never know on my own – no matter how enjoyable on my own might be.

We need guides.

We need guides at home too, to make our experience the most meaningful that it can be. Guides help us to see what we can’t see on our own, and bring the world around us to a more meaningful vivacity. We need the guides of the church to help us see where God is working when we are lost, and helps us know God’s ways when we are seeking to find.

And guides cost money. Just as our staff costs money, the curriculum we use costs money – guides cost money. But it’s an investment worth making if we want to have the best experience possible.

#2 :: Sacred Spaces Might Seem Ostentatious, but They Exist For A Reason

Church in Israel Western Wall Israel

Is God really more present near a certain wall (pictured right) that is close to where the original Temple once stood? Does it cheapen the emotional experience to encounter an ornate church instead of a hill where Christ was crucified? Some people ask the same question about church facilities, or 27 acres of property dedicated to the service of the Lord. Is it worth it to pay for facilities, acreage, and other spaces dedicated to our experiences of the sacred?

Ask that to the people from our group that wrote the names of special people, or people in need, and inserted them in the cracks of the Western Wall. Those pieces of paper that will be cleaned out and thrown away, but that doesn’t matter. Because the Western Wall gives people a sacred place to know God is present. God isn’t more present there in actuality, but sacred places give us a special place to focus on God’s presence when the rest of the world is distracting or disappointing..

Creekwood is one such sacred place. Those who walk in the prayer garden find peace. Those who come in the sanctuary expect God to move. Those in need of prayer know they will find hands to hold. Those in need of sacred community know there are people to love them.

I think that’s worth paying for.

Don’t forget to ponder the further reasons why filling out your pledge card and returning it in worship on January 29th is a good thing to do. Pledging helps us logistically by helping us budget well and telling us what we can or cannot do with our staff and programming. As we sit in a liminal space where we are currently without certain staff positions, the best thing you can do to help us move forward is to pledge so we can move forward responsibly. Pledging also will help you to learn and build trust with God and others. You can also pledge online with the buttons below.


David Lessner

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