It’s been a busy time. We have had an exceptionally good season over the High Holy Days of Jewish New Year and Sukkoth/Tabernacles, with full houses at our guest houses and many thousands of visitors to the Christ Church compound in Jerusalem.
Our amazing team of staff and volunteers at Christ Church excelled themselves in serving those who visited the compound, stayed at the Guest House, enjoyed meals in the Dining Room, or just wanted a coffee and cake at the Coffee Shop.
The Church itself has for weeks now been overfull on Sunday mornings; come just a moment late, or even on time, and you’re destined to sit on a cold stone step, or behind the altar or behind a pillar, or even outside in the entry porch. Exciting times!
Our new Guest House director has arrived at Christ Church and is settling in.
Paul Dilcher comes to us from Michigan in the United States, where he has both business and ministry experience. We are delighted to welcome him, and his wife Karin who will take over responsibility for the care of the volunteers. They are enthusiastic and excited, and aware of the importance of these positions in CMJ Israel’s ministry.
I am greatly looking forward to working with them at the Guest House at Christ Church.
Last week I was ordained. There was a low-key ceremony at Christ Church led by Rev. Stuart McAlpine of Christ Our Shepherd Church in Washington D.C.
This was the climax of a process that started many years ago, when I began training for ordination in the Anglican ministry in South Africa in the late 1970s. As that process came to a head I decided instead to pursue studies in Biblical Archaeology and follow a career in academia, but that call never left me, was never forgotten. Looking back I can see that I’ve been involved in some way or another in Christian ministry or service for most of the time since then.
When after more than 30 years of living and working in university contexts I was appointed to my current position as Executive Director of CMJ Israel, it seemed as if that call that came to me all those years ago was reaching its fulfilment, and now with my ordination it has come full circle. It was a special moment, a special day, one to treasure.
Twice in my life I dared to dream, and saw that dream fulfilled. I wanted to study the archaeology of the Bible in Israel, and did so, devoting half my adult life to this end. And when I was young I wanted to go into full-time Christian ministry, and now I have done so, here in Israel. It’s good to step back and consider God’s goodness to us, his hand of gentle guidance in our lives, the role of destiny in the choices we make.
“Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How amazing are your thoughts concerning me, God!
How vast is the sum of them!”
On Saturday there was an Armistice Day ceremony at the Commonwealth War Cemetery on Mt Scopus in Jerusalem, where it was my privilege to lay a wreath in honour of the Fallen. I did so on behalf of the Anglican International School in Jerusalem, one of the ministries of CMJ Israel.
On Sunday at the morning service in Christ Church it was again my privilege to lead the remembrance, reading those wonderful, horrific, tragic yet respectful poems ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McRae, and 'For the Fallen' by Laurence Binyon.
It’s hard sometimes to join the dots, to look back and consider how all that we hold dear today, our way of life, our freedoms, our faith even, and the way we are able to express it, to consider that for all of these and more we are thankful to those who gave their lives in the Great War of 1914-18.
David Pileggi noted in the service on Sunday that the command to remember is the most often repeated command in the whole of Scripture. Remembering is a critical, integral part of our faith and our identity as followers of Jesus. And now that this great anniversary has passed us by, let us continue to remember, lest we forget, and have to pay again the terrible price paid by those who went before us.
For the Fallen
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them.
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM