Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Young Adult Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Friends,

So it's been a busy but amazing last month or so... I was blessed to help lead a youth mission trip to Oaks Indian Mission in Oaks, Oklahoma, followed by a great trip to Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park in Maine with Jessie, followed by visiting with the amazing folks at Messiah Lutheran Church in Rotterdam, NY and being called as their pastor. While I plan on beginning at Messiah near the tail end of July or early August, in the meantime I plan on catching up on another ministry I've been involved with (as well as relaxing a bit), leading a young adult mission trip to the Holy Land. What follows is a little something I wrote up about the opportunity. If you're a young adult who might be interested, be sure to check out the contact info at the bottom of the post. If you're not a young adult but think you might know one who would be interested in attending, please help me spread the word!

Especially in recent weeks, we've constantly heard heartbreaking stories or seen horrific images coming out of the Holy Land. Most folks in America tend to think this is just yet another phase of a seemingly intractable conflict in a region of a world that's "always been violent." We often don't even feel certain about what's truly happening in the Holy Land, never mind having any idea what we can possibly do about the situation. As Christians we also ask, "how does our connection to the biblical Israel relate to how we should interact with the modern state of Israel?" Lutherans in are particularly sensitive to how the ongoing conflict might relate to our denomination's immense historic failings during the Holocaust as well. Finally, we're concerned about how our public stances might affect current interfaith relationships which have proved amazing blessings in the lives of our local congregations. Confronted with such difficult questions, challenges and complexities, it's so easy to just throw up our hands, pray for peace, but otherwise remain wholly detached from what's going on in the Holy Land.

At the same time, all sorts of folks like going to Israel, maybe to Palestine, see a bunch of historical or pseudo-historical sites, go for a swim in the Dead Sea and then come back home saying they walked in the footsteps of Jesus. What if you had the opportunity to not only walk where he walked, but walk how Jesus walked too, developing relationships with local Palestinians and Israelis and discovering new opportunities to do justice along the way? What if you had the opportunity to move past America's patriarchal obsession with creating our own "balanced" view of the conflict towards accompanying and the sharing the views of our Israeli and Palestinian sisters and brothers on the ground? What if you had the opportunity to go on such a trip with other social justice minded young adults, all the while discerning how God is calling you to walk in the way of Jesus back home? Now that would be a true pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and that's exactly the sort of trip I'll be co-leading from May 21 - 31, 2015, along with Trena Montgomery, a former Young Adult in Global Mission in the Holy Land who will soon return to work with Palestinian Lutherans.

Last January, Trena and I were part of a group of sixteen young adults from across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) who journeyed to the Holy Land on a similar pilgrimage sponsored by the ELCA's Peace Not Walls initiative, while also training to lead future trips of our own. You can read our groups reflections here.

Does this sound like the sort of thing you're interested in? If you're from the Northeast US, between the ages of 18 - 30 and want to find out more, either check out our Facebook Page or email Trena and I at region7pnw@gmail.com. You can also directly apply here. Safety will be addressed through daily security updates from Lutheran World Federation personnel on the ground in East Jerusalem. Cost of the trip will be approximately $2000 - $2500 depending on the price of your flight, but we're more than willing to help with fundraising ideas. Thanks so much, and we hope you can join us for this exciting opportunity to walk in the way of Jesus!

God's peace,
Dustin

Dustin is a recent graduate from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and approved candidate for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. An evangelist, urban gardener, mountain climber, community organizer, saint and sinner, Dustin spends most of his professional time wrestling with God and proclaiming liberation in Christ. Otherwise, Dustin likes hiking, playing frisbee, hanging out with an amazing woman named Jessie and pretending to know how to sing.

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