Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love, show us how to serve the neighbors we have from you. Loving puts us on our knees, serving as though we are slaves, this is the way we should live with you.
United Methodist Hymn # 432 words by Tom Colvin
“Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed.” John 19:31
As we reflect on the reality of Jesus’ death, we are humbled. After spending time in the Holy Land, we have learned that this day is referred to as Sad Friday by the local Christian people.
Not long ago, I joined a group of Christians from Bethlehem who had gathered in a field where too many olive trees were being uprooted. As we prayed, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…” an olive tree was uprooted from the earth. With tears in my heart, I prayed.
“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25
We remember that God is present in times of despair. A few trees remain in this field, though stripped of limbs and branches, new growth is happening. A reflection of “Sammud” steadfastness of hope is witnessed in the people of this land. While in our life we may despair, we know that earthly death does not have the final word.
Lord, fill us with your love as we seek to faithfully serve our neighbors, both near and far away. Help us to remain steadfast in our love, hope and faith. Amen.
Devotion written by Rev. Kristen L. Brown, GBGM Methodist Liaison in Palestine and Israel from 2011 to the present, and by Julie Hartbarger Blacksher, a member of Pathways UMC in Springfield, Missouri.
The wooden wall, a project of the YWCA of Jerusalem, second picture taken in a valley near Bethlehem as a tree was uprooted, third picture one of the olive trees which remained, at least for a short while, fourth picture a drawing of an olive tree, photographs taken by Rev. Kristen L. Brown
Drawing of the olive tree by Julie Hartbarger Blacksher.