February 28, 2012

Feb. 28: Others’ sacred ground


By Sarah Rody, a senior mathematics major from Sterling, Ohio
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

Abraham truly was the father of many nations. Sarah was a mother of nations as well, although she is not recognized across as many religions. This past summer I witnessed the true diversity of Abraham’s nations.

I spent the summer in Bethlehem, Palestine, along with seven other Goshen College students, with the family of a college friend, learning about the conflict and culture there. We were fortunate to be able to spend a day in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was such a juxtaposition of Christian, Jewish and Muslim culture. I, as a Christian, visited the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques, and it was one of the holiest experiences of my life.

The Western Wall of the Temple was not the temple of my peoples’ history, but it was a holy place of prayer and mourning of what was lost. Al-Aqsa Mosque is not the mosque where the prophet of my peoples’ history was transported by angels, but it was a beautiful and peaceful place of reflection. I am a part of the peoples, these histories, even though I am Christian. I can learn about my own faith by thinking about issues that other religions raise. These nations are not as different as we might think. We can still see the holiness of the others’ sacred ground.

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 (NRSV)
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
15 God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”



Comments (11)

  1. Thanks, Sarah, for inviting us to contemplate the meaning of your experience. It is very timely, given recent news that once again highlight the need for living out God’s love for all whose beliefs differ from our own.

    Lois Martin February 28, 2012 |
  2. You are so “right on”, Sarah! Thank you!

    Bonnie February 28, 2012 |
  3. Thank you so much for this reflection.

    My daughter is spending this semester in the Middle East for the EMU cross cultural. She related a time when her group climbed Mt. Sinai and experienced the foreign voices of another group singing a familiar hymn in their native tongue. The EMU group added their English harmonies and together they worshiped.

    It is too easy for me as a Westerner to forget that Our God is huge!!!

    Beth S February 28, 2012 |
  4. Remember — the most defining difference is Jesus Christ who died for the sins of all — even Muslims and Jews — but they must accept His grace.

    Vicki February 28, 2012 |
  5. It is good to recall from where we came!!!!!!!!!!!!

    bob c February 28, 2012 |
  6. Thank you for your thoughts. I have never been there. But I praise God that because of his gift of grace through Jesus I can meet Him anywhere-even in my everyday closet of prayer.

    Betty February 28, 2012 |
  7. “We can still see the holiness of the others’ sacred ground.” A lovely thought, thank you.

    Judith February 28, 2012 |
  8. I find it interesting that you comment that many of these sacred places in Jerusalem are “not temples of my people’s history.” Our Christian heritage rests on the foundation of our Jewish ancestry; Jesus himself was raised in Jewish traditions. His drawing on examples of Jewish law and practice throughout the Scriptures are particularly helpful in seeing that we are all shaped, formed and alive in God’s image — Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.

    Ann Baker Easley February 28, 2012 |
  9. I agree with Judith–this line resounded in my heart today: “We can still see the holiness of the others’ sacred ground.”

    I long to stand before the Lord in these thin places.


    Tamera Rehnborg February 28, 2012 |
  10. Thanks, Sarah, for pointing us not only to Abraham but also to Sarah, the mother of many nations.

    Joan February 28, 2012 |
  11. Thanks, Sarah, for sharing from your experience. I, too, have found my own faith enriched while standing on other’s sacred ground.

    Gwen February 29, 2012 |