Monday, February 28, 2011

Holy Places, Holy People

Today was truly amazing-- I feel like we have had several days in one. I am quite tired and we leave very early for Massada and the Dead Sea tomorrow-- but I just want to run through all we did:
Our AMAZING tour guide (and truly this is not an effective description of Mike- he is teacher/professor, preacher, evangelist, care taker, a very wise, generous man!) took us to the Dome of the Rock (which was not on our schedule- but he took us anyway! We left at 7:15 this morning!

The Dome of the Rock was incredible- so beautiful and I felt so honored to able to come and witness this place.
Right after the Dome of the Rock --my camera died (I was so tired last night that I forgot to charge my battery.... I laid in bed and thought about it...but I was just so tired [guess I was charging my own batteries instead!]

But really- in many ways- not having my camera liberated me- I no longer worried about documenting-- I found a few folks and asked if they would make sure to take pictures of our readers (at every place we read scripture and I want a picture of those who are reading for them and for our story too). I no longer felt like I had to remember to take pictures- I would just be in this holy place. And I could also focus on keeping our group together.

Keeping 44 people together walking through the Old CIty of Jerusalem is quite a feat!!! But we did it! Wow! Ralph and I have definitely become better shepherds and we now have a completely new perspective on the Parable of the Lost Sheet!

We went through the Lion's Gate, also called (Sheep Gate, Mary's Gate, St. Stephen's Gate, and I think there were some more) we were already inside the walls, but upon getting to the gate, Mike had us walk out so that we could see the lions on carved on the gate and see it fully before we walked around inside.

We went to the Pool of Bethesda where we read scripture (John 5: 1-9), had a devotion and then wondered into the Church of St. Anne's - It was here at the pool of Bethesda a man was lame and Jesus asked him "Do you want to be healed?" And he said yes- but he couldn't get to the pool- people would jump ahead of him, no one would help him down.... and Jesus said to him, "Get up , take you mat and walk." Jesus healed on the Sabbath and healed in a way this man was not expecting. His paradigm of healing shifted- his paradigm of life shifted.
St. Anne's is a beautiful church!!! It is not covered in mosaics or gold, or stain glass like some of the others- it is raw and pure and clean and beautiful with high amazing arches.. Here we sang. We sang the Doxology, we sang "Jesus Remember Me," and we sang "Hallelujah." I sat down and I prayed for those who God has healed-- praising God for all he has done-- I also thanked God for those who have gone home to him- who have been healed in a way I cannot fully understand. I prayed for my sister whom I had prayed to God for a miracle, I had prayed for healing and the Lord did heal her by making her whole and bringing her home- it was not the healing I wanted, but I know that she is with God and at complete peace and complete wholeness and healing. I praised God for healing my mother- who is a survivor and has been healed from so much illness in her life. I praised God for having her in my life. I prayed for healing and for wholeness in the brokenness I see and feel. I prayed for marriages that are hurting, for those in my church suffering, for those in all the world who seek healing. I just prayed and prayed and prayed and wept and praised and praised God. It was truly powerful-- I just sat to the side and prayed. No camera- no exploring- no pictures- just stopped and was still. I came outside and they asked if I had gone downstairs-- there was a downstairs? So I had a few minutes before our meet up time and saw downstairs-- beautiful down there- with powerful altars, icons, pictures, candles lit, prayers stuck in walls, prayer in the air being lifted to God.

We left from there and went to the 1st and 2nd Stations of the Cross- two churches there- the Chapel of Condemnation and the Chapel of Flaggellation. So very powerful- it was hear that we gathered in the 2nd station of the cross that we read scripture Mark 15 and then sang "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Amazing Grace." Here in this place you can literally see where the Roman soldiers were playing a game as they mocked Jesus- the game is carved into the stone. (Thankful for those with working cameras who got he shot- I'll add later).

We continued on the Via Dolorosa- the Way of Sorrows- through the Old City. Mike led us to a cafe where we rested- some of us had freshly squeezed pomegrante juice, orange juice, turkish and arabic coffee-- YUM! A great pick me up!

We continued through the Old City- walking through the souk- I wish I could give you the sounds, smells, sights of this! These are narrow passage ways- passing places that sell clothing, food, jewlery-- we saw everything for sale- this is where people shop. This is daily life for many.

We continued through to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre--Golgatha - the skull where Jesus was crucified. Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are stations 11-14 - they are incredible. Here you can touch the stone that was known as the skull. There are many holy stones in the Holy Land- the stone where Jesus was born, John the Baptism born, the stone where Jesus died, the stone where they laid Jesus to be annointed- all so powerful. My dear husband had warned me of the frentic nature of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre- and I was prepared- but still amazed - amazed at all I saw- and amazed by all the pilgrims here. There are mosaics that over the walls, arches, and way high ceilings that are made of tiny stone/glass/ceramic-- amazing!!!

We exited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Mike gave each of us delicious seaseme bread! So so good- I could see the fire of the bakery as we stopped to take a breath and smell the the breads all baking! We climbed the bus and headed for the area of the Dead Sea. We love to be below sea level! Mike says that we get happy! You breathe better- it is lighter, and warmer, and wonderful! The Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth! We went to Qumran --where you can see the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. As you look over these caves behind you is the Dead Sea- behind that the Jordan Mountains where Moses would have stood looking over and where Joshua would have come over into the land of milk and honey. Here in this area was where John the Baptist was living and preaching. We saw an area at Qumran where they made date honey-- and we thought about how John the Baptism ate locusts and wild honey and thought he probably ate date honey! wow!

We then went to Jericho. Jericho is a beautiful city- filled with palms- and oasis. Jericho is a Palestinian City, walled/fenced where you go through a check point to go in. The people who live here cannot leave w/o a special permit which is quite difficult to attain. Here in Jericho is where Jesus came to the Mount of Temptation after he was baptized by John the Baptist- you can take a cable car to the top (we did not do this today-- perhaps this is for our next trip!) By now it was almost 2pm and we had lunch! A wonderful lunch! And people did a bit of shopping in the store- where you can purchase Hebron glass, the best olive oil I have every had in my life (truly truly amazing), and Dead Sea products... We then walked up to see Jericho and read about Zaccheaues and Joshua. We sang (with the help of Jan's kazoo!!!) "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" and "Zacchaeus was a Wee Little Man" It was the day for children's songs!

As we came down the mountain there were lovely vendors selling poster panorama views of Jerusalem and Jericho for only $1 and I met a lovely man who also sells things--and we talked about America. He would like to go, but I said I would send him a postcard. So now I have his address and will send him this. He and I spoke for awhile about life in Jericho. I am overhwhelmed by the kindness, hopsitatliy, graciousness, and outpouring of grace of the people here. I literally felt most of this day that my heart would explode out of my chest. I cannot process the places I have been- but I cannot process the love of the people here-- it is more love- more hospitality from a people-- all people - than I have ever experienced. In every place you can meet pockets of people who are nice. But everywhere in Jericho and in Bethlehem especiallly-- the people were so so kind -- so happy to be with us. They were happy to sell their things- but they were happy to be with us- to ask about Virginia- about the States --to Bless us.

We crossed over the street where we met more vendors- drank juice (yum pomegranete) and rode camels! Yes- I rode a camel- everyone took a picture! It was so awesome! I have ridden a camel once before at a church near us at Christmas- this was nothing like that-- I think that camel I rode before must have been asleep or old.... Very funny when Ishmael (our bus driver) said "Go faster go faster-- 10 times!" I am on this camel and it feels like he is just all over the place--- I think I had my mouth open in laughter and amazement at the experience the whole time! My cheeks hurt from smiling today- my heart is so full...

We then saw the Spring of Elisha-- and we were able to go down and touch the water.

And then we were off to come back home to Jeruselum tonight.

We had dinner and then there was a lecture about Israeli and Palestinian Reconciliation- WOW- they had a Christian Palestinian man and an Jewish Israeli man speak and answer questions. This was quite enlightening and powerful.

This is the fourth of EO lectures-- Apparently there was one in Tiberius about Jesus' Ministry in the Galilee (but it was the night we arrived and at another hotel-so we missed that). Our first night here in Jeruselum there was a lecture on the geography of the the Holy Land. And last night there was a lecture on Jesus' Ministry here.

Today- I am filled-- I am filled with holy sites- with holy power from these sights falling afresh on me as I pray, sing, sit, watch... but today I am also filled by these holy people-- holy people who live in a holy place that struggles to be holy. The Lord says, "Be Holy" I am in awe of the people as much or more as I am in awe of this place.

Tonight and every night- my prayer is: Lord you are holy. Help us to be holy and make us holy and let us live in holiness and peace all our days so that we may fulfill your call for all your world. In the name Holy Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we praise you and thank you, Amen.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Tomorrow we go to the Wailing Wall and we pray. We bring prayers with us. I will bring prayers for you- I bring prayers for you with me whoever you are- for all the world. I bring prayers for those who cannot sleep at night- for those who worry, for those who fear, for those who lie awake in desperation searching for answers and direction. I pray for you.
I pray for those who praise and sing, and shout of joy- for all who feel the joy, the love, the peace of Christ in their lives and refuse to let anyone shame them or steal from them this hope that is real.
Tomorrow I go and I pray for Mothers, and Fathers, and Children, and orphans, I pray for those who are alone in this world and those who feel overwhelmed.
I pray for the sick and the dying, I pray for healing and miracles, I pray for safety, for peace, for understanding, for love to abound.
Once my chaplain in college told me how monks rise at 2 in the morning wherever they are and pray for those who they do not know. He said this so we would know that when studying, when stressing out at 2 in the morning we would know- someone was praying for us.
I write names on for of people on these pieces of papers but I also write in space for you who I do not know throughout this world- I leave space- knowing that Christ fills the space - fills in the space with the holy -- fills in the spaces that we do not know - do not understand-- fill in the spaces of our lives with the holy-- so that we may be holy- the holy that will reach all and is with all- that already surrounds you who already knows your need.
I will call you by name- even when I do not know your name- I call you sister and brother and Jesus calls you beloved. And your name, your prayer, is written so that you may know I prayed for you tomorrow at the wailing wall.

Holy Ground

There is so much to tell. Every day we go and we are standing on holy ground. Everything I see is a sight of awe and reverence for where I am and who God is and who I am supposed to be.

Today we went to the Holy City of Bethlehem. I cannot even sit here and write to you without tears and with out a thunder growing in my chest-- I literally can feel just awe in my heart...

Bethlehem is a paradox- as you stand in Shepherd's Field - you can imagine the angels and the shock- the awe- the holy holy holy moment the shepherds' experienced, you can feel the breezes that the shepherds would feel, touch the rocks, see the poppies, hear dogs barking as the dogs would have who herded the sheep..walk through the caves that were their homes- and across the way you see the separation wall and settlements, you see fence, barbed wire, division.

You walk in this Holy City where there is truly a spirit of Christmas, you meet lovely wonderful people - kind, generous people-- and you go through checkpoints seeing both Palestinian and Israeli soldiers carrying big in this place where wise men brought gifts.

I say none of this to be political-this is daily live here- and it is only that my heart is so full-- and yet strangely here in this place where so many may expect conflict-- I see peace.

I see the other too- yes it is here- yes there is division....but there is great unity too.

For Today in Bethlehem, a son is born- he is Emmanuel, God with us and he has been born for ALL the people.
All people come to the Church of the Nativity here in Bethlehem. It has never been destroyed as others were.... all who came and conquered here revered this place. As we stood in the church- you could see both Muslims and Christians coming to prayer in this holy place. I feel peace in my heart. These holy places, are not merely sites - no where we visit is it merely an archeological place, a historical place-- it is sacred space-a sight to behold and be filled with- and it seems to me that this sacredness, this holiness is filling me-- I feel as if I am soaking it in and up--- I will take it with me and yet there it is never ending.

So much of me is feeling like I want to stay here and simply listen more learn more be still here more. Already I know I must return - Today I kissed the rock where Jesus was born -- many places say, "Traditions says this is the place..." but here (as Mike said)-- "Here, there is no tradition, there is no doubt- this is where Jesus was born." This is why this place has not been touched... it is revered by all who come- no matter who conquers the land here-- this space is sacred and all revere it. I think it must be because this is the place where the Prince of Peace was born-- perhaps this peace-- this understanding, this reverence, will grow amongst all people-- that we also will come to see the image of God in each other- that we may come to listen more and tell less, that we may come to seek first understanding, rather than to be understood--That we may see awe and angels, where we once saw confusion and anger, that we may remember all who gathered: Shepherds, wise men, animals, and all -- all -- this child who was born for all people-- is bigger than all of us- is bigger than the mess we make and the conflicts we create---God is sovereign, God is real- God reigns. May this Holy City of Bethlehem and all of Israel allow the Holy Child of Bethlehem to descend on us we pray, cast out our sin and enter in be born in us today!

Friday, February 25, 2011


I am so glad to finally have a chance to get online and share a bit about our trip! Its quite late, so I may not be on long... Finally I have internet working- so I had to take the opportunity!

We arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, February 23 in the afternoon at 2:30 pm-- it was 7:30 back home. We drove from Tel Aviv to Tiberius. Our wonderful tour guide is Mike- he is absolutely amazing!!! We are the "Wow bus" we have lots of fun- he encourages us to say "wow!" and believe me -- we do!!! Wow- We are in Awe of what God has done! What God is doing! And what God continues to do here! How powerful to walk in these places where Jesus walked! Wow!

We arrived at our hotel, had dinner, unpacked and went to bed. By the time we got to the hotel- it was noon back home-- a full 24 hrs after we began our travel we arrived at our destination.

Tiberius is located on the Sea of Galilee-- it is absolutely beautiful here!

We left at 7:30am Thursday morning and took a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is a very big "lake" but you can see how it is like a sea- it is far across to the other side, quite hazy, and the wind and weather can change easily. Quick changes in weather are common- b/c it is 685 feet below seal level. This day was relatively calm and peaceful. The boat stopped and I read from the Gospel of Matthew 8:23-27 and preached on the Sea of Galilee! Wow!

Then we sang together, "Here I am Lord!" How powerful to sing this song- How powerful because here in the Galilee was where Jesus called his disciples and they answered the call-- and we too say, "Here I am" and answer the call to follow! This day was so powerful - especially b/c originally this was to be our itinerary for Friday- but we switched b/c the it is an easier day jet lagged and our last stop was the Jordan River (and the Baptismal site closes early on Friday) so Thursday was better. But Thursday was better b/c we started our journey that day- and here was where the disciples started their journey- at his baptism was where Jesus started his ministry.

As we stepped off the boat we went to see the Jesus Boat- which is a boat that was found in the Sea of Galilee when there was a drought. This boat is 2000 years old and is - or like the boat that Jesus and his disciples would have sailed on.

We then hopped on the bus to the Mount of Beatitudes. Wow! So beautiful! It is so fertile here- orange trees, bananna trees, mango, such green and lush- even in a drought they have- you'd never believe how beautiful the land is! Wild flowers scatter the hills- yellow flowers and red poppies. Matthew 5: 1-19

We then went to the Tagba -the Church of the Loaves and Fishes where Jesus fed the 5000!
Each place we went Mike shared so much with us and painted a picture- it was as if we were there and then just as he had us on the tip of our toes convinced we were there - he would lead us right into the place where the scripture was read. At every place I had someone read scripture. Here we read from John 6: 1-15

Off then to the Church of Peter's Primacy - "Do you love me?" Jesus asked Peter and he said, "Feed my Sheep." Here we could walk down and put our feet, our hands, into the Sea of Galilee- here we could pray and place our prayer into this holy rock. John 21: 15-19

Next we went to Capernaum - this was amazing! Capernaum is called the hometown of Jesus- (But wasn't Jesus from Nazareth? you ask?- yes- but they rejected him). Capernaum was where Jesus spent most of his time. This is where he stayed. This is where the disciples stayed with Peter's mother in law. There was so so much here! Here we read John 6: 30-33, 47-51, 59-- Jesus is the Bread of Heaven-- (we read this b/c on the doorway to the synagogue here God's provision was memorialzed by a carved manna pot-- remembering God's miracle of daily supply-- and excavations at Capernaum have unearthed such a manna pot. Jesus is the bread of heaven - He supplies a gift that lasts forever.

We then ate in a kibbotz (I'm totally spelling this wrong) and many of us ate St. Peter's fish.

And then we were off to the Jordan River to remember our baptism! Wow! This was amazing! Ralph and I waded into the water and together we all remembered our baptism and were thankful! We renewed our covenant with God, reaffirmed our faith, and remembered our baptism! Ralph and I splashed the group as we remembered our baptism and we all felt the spirit fall afresh on us! A few brave folks sang "Wade in the Water" together!

Today- Friday - was amazing!
We went to Megiddo, Caesaarea by the Sea, the Church of the Annuciation, and Cana.
There is so much to tell...
Highlights: From Megiddo we could see Samaria looking one way and Mt. Carmel looking the other.
Caessarea was unbelieveabe! The Mediterranean Sea is just astounding!
Ampitheatre- here we sang together "Rock of Ages"
so much more!

The Church of the Annuciation left me speechless as I was in awe of Mary and in awe of Jesus coming back here to Nazareth to preach and be rejected. I had no words and only tears. Perhaps it is the connection I feel with Mary as a mother-- and also a woman in ministry- one who was called and with such boldness, such courage.... We heard the scripture read from Luke 1 and sang the first and last verses of the Summons-- I asked the group, "Can you say along with Mary, "I am the Lord's servant and I am willing to do whatever he wants." God summons us - Let us follow-- and we sang together... My tears came long before as Mike spoke of Jesus returning to Nazareth after his baptism and preaching.... upon entering the church he asked me if I was okay- and I could only shake my head- so filled, so in awe- so unable to speak. There are not words for the power of this place. Here in this place I thanked God for the privilege of calling me to motherhood and ministry- for bringing Jesus into the world and for Mary who answered the call. I prayed for my friends who are expecting- for their journey as mothers and for their children.

We then went to Cana - the place of Jesus' first miracle. Those who were here with their spouses came and renewed their vows- those of us w/o our spouses renewed our vows as well (only our spouses were not with us :(
As Mike spoke to us about this holy place he said, "Why did they run out of wine?" Because Jesus was there and people came to see Jesus! More people had come because Jesus was there. For some reason that had never really dawned on me why they ran out...just that they did. People heard that Jesus was coming to this wedding- this Jesus they had heard of - and so they came to see what all of this was about. And here the people saw and believed!

As we left Cana- Mike ran into a bakery and bought us all baklava! Wow! So so good!

Pictures to come!!! Perhaps when I am not so tired... all I can say is that I am constantly in awe- always taking a breath of the spirit breathing in- which reveals ever so much more of my faith to me in this holy place. Wow-- God is awesome!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pilgrimage - In Christ's Hands I go

Today I leave for the Holy Land. I go with 30 other pilgrims mostly all from my church. The lead pastor of our church Ralph Rowley and I are hosting this trip led by Educational Opportunities and I am packed and I am ready.

There is such anxiety with packing because you begin to worry that you are leaving something behind.... I am leaving behind my very best friend, my soul mate - my husband and my two girls-- (the longest [10 days] that I have been away from them). But I know- in a very deep and a very real way that they are going with me. Yes- I know that is very hallmark and something everyone says- but I actually can feel them with me as I go. I cannot really explain it other to say that- the other night my husband came home from leading UMYF and I was bathing the girls.

Gracie started to sing, "He's got the Whole World In His Hands" right before he got home-- they sang that in Sunday School- and Sophia and I joined along. Kevin came in the bathroom and sat next to us- and there in the bathroom we all sang together. As I walk the Via Delarosa to Calvary I will feel that in an intensely real way. He has the whole world in his hands. He came into the world to save the whole world and saved us on the cross. I am in his hands, you are in his hands...

When I pray- I will hear the voices of my children when they say their prayers. When I go and pray I take with me prayers of those who are joined to me in this great faith- those who are a part of me because we are sisters and brothers in Christ.

I will pray at the Church of the Annuciation, and at Bethlehem, remembering how Christ came into the world and lifting up those I know who are pregnant, about to, or recently had children- my dear friends who live and walk now as mothers, and I will pray for them as I feel the joy Mary felt.

I will pray at the pool of Bethseda remembering those I know who have experienced healing and will pray for those who seek healing.

I will pray at the wailing wall and I will learn about prayer more deeply.

I will pray in the garden of the Gethsemene remembering Christ prayer- seeking to stay awake and aware of His presence in my life and I will pray at the Garden tomb remembering that He is not there- for He is risen!

I will remember those whose generosity has made it possible for me to be on this pilgrim journey. Those saints who have gone before me- the church where I was baptized- where this journey began, the people who have inspired and enriched my faith, the church where I serve now- where Joy is ever visible, truly present, and reverberates in and through all who are there. It is the joy of Jesus Christ that fills me and will sustain me as I continue this journey- held in the hands of Christ journeying closer to the heart of Christ.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pray for our Pilgrim Journey

Almighty and sovereign God of the guiding star and of the bush that blazes, You call us to follow, you ignite us with relentless grace and yet, too often we resist. You calm us over turbulent seas, and you nourish us with bread for the journey. You guide us through deep valleys and mountaintops. We confess that too often we see only what we want and we chase after fleeting happiness. Give us eyes to see, ears to listen, feet to move, arms to embrace your call, hands to reach out, and lives that flourish. Make us pilgrims Lord, who find our home in you. In the name of our Savior, Amen.

Justice and Identities: Thoughts after a Great Disciple Bible Study

What does it mean to be a good Christian?

What does it mean to be a good American?

Can you be both?

Are they the same?

Are they different?

These are wonderful and hard questions.

They came up in a great discussion in my Disciple class last night.

We talked about the book of Daniel. We talked about justice.

What makes us work for justice? How do we know something is just? When something hits us hard and we say, “That’s not right?” Why do we say that? How do we know that?

Where in us do we make that call?

A very wonderful and wise man in class was bold enough to ask hard questions last night. One question he said was, “But when we stand up for justice – is it always because Jesus has called us to?”

I said- and way too quickly reacting. Usually I’m better at waiting, leading, asking questions. Last night in bed I couldn’t stop thinking about how I wished I had silenced myself more in class…. (I had a long and hard day and I was tired, hungry—but I wished I had done a better job.)

I quickly said, “I am. When I work for justice it comes out of my faith and out of my belief that Jesus is leading me.” Yes that is true for me—but I worried that it sounded like I have it all together- which I don’t. I worried it sounded as if I always do what Jesus call me to do – which I don’t.

I spent some time dissecting a recent issue that I felt was a justice issue—I felt angry about it and felt it was wrong. But why? Where in me said “This is wrong!” Where did I get that? Who put it there?

And to be completely honest with you—I can’t put my finger on it exactly. There were a number of reasons I thought it was wrong—but none were stand out search light shining—this is it. But they did all hit me from a faith place. As I went deeper and deeper- I’m angry because of this—why? – Well – because I believe…. That’s how it went. Why do I believe this? Ultimately came from my faith in Jesus Christ.

I am also sure that others who also have a faith in Jesus Christ may come to a different conclusion on justice issues than I do – also guided by their faith—so where does this leave us?

How do we go forward?

Where do we gain traction in decisions? How do we have unity? Where can we agree?

But there are also other justice issues- that I’m realizing probably do not come out of my rootedness in Christ. I am realizing this as I write and process. I may not always know what is just strictly from my faith… For instance- I believe that democracy is a good thing, that freedom of religion is a good thing. Why do I believe that? Does that come out of my faith? I think it comes out of my being raised as an American.

I believe that respect and tolerance are important. I do not think everyone must think and believe like me. Where does that come from? Is it because I am an American? Is it because I follow the Golden Rule to “do unto others as I would have them do unto me”? Is it both?

And yet I do also believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light and that he is the way to the Father. I preach good news because I am called to make disciples. I have a hope that people will come to believe in Jesus Christ and that I can be part of leading them to know Him and accept salvation. And yet- if someone does not believe I do not attempt to force them to agree with me. I am respectful. I am tolerant that we are different and yet, I do not accept that they are right.

Does it even matter where my reason for thinking about justice comes from?
I think it does. I think that that awareness is very important.

I think that when people stand up and say they are doing something because God has called them to—it carries a different weight.

Sometimes I wonder if they truly are being called by God or if they are manipulating a “God-Message” for their own self-interest. Sometimes I question their theological and exegetical integrity for the way some may “proof-text” their way to proving God is calling them.

Who am I and what is my identity?

I am a Christian.

I am an American.

What do they mean together and separately?

What responsibility do I have in these identities?

I am so thankful to my class for teaching me. For forcing me to evaluate my own motives, my own reasons for justice, belief, faith... I am thankful for the ability God has given me to be with others who challenge me to grow. Thank you God for my Disciple Bible Study!

Also-- I am definitely taking up the suggestion to read "American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us" now! If you have suggestions and/or discussion- I welcome it!