As we visited the appropriately-named Dead Sea today, and bobbed like corks in its salty shores, I’m reminded of our host, Tracy’s, often-repeated sentiment: instead of dwelling on the dead stones that we see in this country, let us remember the living stones of our brothers and sisters in Christ living here.
These “dead stones” are easy to be amazed by: millenia-old churches, monuments to many different religions and rulers and wars, remnants of civilizations long dead. There are even more natural wonders to be seen, as the terrain changes from lush green in the north, near Mount Herman, the highest mountain in the Middle East and then fades into the desert, down to the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea. In an area the size of New Jersey, God’s handiwork and creativity are clearly on display.
And yet, as we marvel at these natural wonders, and ponder how these ancient buildings were made, and imagine what life was like so long ago, we are constantly challenged to look even more closely at the delicate tension that Christians in this part of the world are forced to live in. Lines of division are drawn everywhere, both visible and invisible, and as we meet with and hear the stories of Christian brothers and sisters on every side of these divisions, let us continue to pray that the love of Christ will unite their hearts and overcome these man-made divisions. These “living stones” are monuments to God’s faithfulness that continues even today.