Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Holy sites

2008's travel season is set to begin in 2 weeks when a friend, a flatmate and I fly off to Israel for 6 days over Easter! It should be an incredible trip, and I even took the radical step of buying a guidebook to help us. As I read it last night it struck me how bizarre some of the recommendations are.

For Jews, the Western wall (which was part of the foundations of Herod's temple) is a holy site: they started praying there after AD70 because they were afraid of accidentally stepping on the site of the Holy of Holies. Fair enough.

But why is there a long list of sites in Jerusalem and elsewhere, each of which is a "holy place for Christians"? Is that not missing the point ever so slightly...?

1 Peter 2:
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
"The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone,"
"A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall."
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Christians are the holiest sites in Christianity. And that's because we have God's Holy Spirit living inside us, not because we go on a pilgrimage to the "Holy Land" (ahem).

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