Well, we had a fabulous trip last weekend. I would recommend anyone that has the opportunity to go to the Passion Play and the other events there to go. The Play itself, the Holy Land Tour, the Parables of the Potter, and the Bible museum were all wonderful.
One of the features of the Holy Land tour was a scale replica of the Tabernacle. A man dressed as a priest met us and took us into the tabernacle and explained the significance of all the different items and connected them to us as Christians.
I began to think about the “pilgrimage” festivals of Israel. I wonder what it must have been like for families and friends to make the trek to the holy land (not Arkansas, as some of the folks on this trip tried to convince us of). Some of the Psalms in the Psalter are known as ascension Psalms which meant that the pilgrims song them as they approached the temple.
We know that this was a time to remember what God had done for his people. We know that these were community events, not merely individual ones. We know that these were designed to ground the children in their faith as the adults took the opportunity to recount their heritage with God. We also know that this was a time to “reconnect” so to speak. It was definitely a bonding experience, not only with God, but also with each other.
In some of the same ways, this trip was the same sorts of things for those of us that went. Most of us spent some time in our Sunday morning devotional reflecting on things we had learned. The festivals were a sort of “retreat, refocusing, rekindling, reconnecting, and ultimately revival. Some of these words may conjure up images of retreats that we have been on. Or it may take our minds back to the time when we used to go to Christian Camp in the summer. These sorts of “retreats” are very valuable. They bond us to God and to each other.
Look at the number of times Jesus took his disciples to go away to a place by themselves. They bonded not only by working in ministry together, but by spending some down time with each other as well. Here are a couple of examples.
“Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray (Luk 9:28).”
“The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.’ (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) (Mark 6:30-31).”
Christianity is all about relationship. It is about the relationship between us and God and our relationship with one another. Relationships have a tendency to get stale if they are not cultivated. It takes work. Relationships do not happen naturally. In fact, in our case they happen supernaturally. So things such as this trip, retreats, etc. are all very good things to participate in.