a time for peace

– standing against occupation

holiness made real

On my first visit to the Holy Land, Woods (my husband) and I were on a spiritual pilgrimage.  We had joined a tour group of pastors and spouses, mostly from the Southwest, and traveled thru the land Jesus walked, reading Scripture, taking time for prayer, and immersing ourselves in the beautiful holiness of this land.  We breathed the holy air, ate the holy foods, visited the holy sites, and found it difficult to sleep as we felt that time here was so preciously short.  My favorite place was the Temple Mount, as I was filled with a deep sense of joy to be in a place that seemed at once so familiar, yet so uniquely different than anywhere I had ever been! It was an Israel/Palestine visit that nourished my soul and I am grateful for the memories.

My time here now is very different. The land is still the Holy Land and the places I walk in are still so unique from my previous experience in the world, but I feel the holiness differently.  I can no longer think of it as a magical place where God graced humankind in a mysterious way. God is not somehow floating above the land, filling it with divine beauty and meaning, with hope and peace.  Rather, I feel the holiness of God where I didn’t fully expect it – in the gritty, harsh reality of the everyday life of ordinary struggling people.  It shows itself not just in the elaborate cathedrals that fill this land, but in the simple homes of poverty stricken people, where we are offered tea and a chance to sit and rest.  

God’s holy hope is in the many Palestinians and internationals who develop leadership programs for the youth who will someday lead their country. God’s holy grace is in the hearts of so many who say they want to forgive, if only they can find a future opened to them.  God’s holy love is in genuine smiles and welcome of the children who are filled with joy to meet someone new and to say with pride in English, “Hello, how are you?”

In the midst of Occupation, the holiness of Jesus, who knew life under occupation, offers us the choice of living in freedom. In the face of poverty, which was Jesus’ reality, we can offer up what we have to one another, and find God’s abundance flowing to us. In the darkness of deep suffering and loss, it is the Holy Spirit of our suffering God who fills us with a hope for a better tomorrow.

The holiness of God permeates this place, just as it does all places on earth, as God’s people keep their hearts and minds and eyes on Jesus and allow Him to bring us the strength and the peace we need to be His witnesses and to live according to His ways – with a holiness deep within us and our daily lives.  May that holy peace keep our hearts filled with joy and wonder everyday, everywhere.

Peace/salaam – Pastor Pat


September 29, 2008 - Posted by | Occupation, Palestine, peace, Uncategorized


  1. Pr. Pat; Just read your latest update, of the 29th. It is too much to take in and make heads or tales of. All I can do is reread the message, try to u7nderstand, and PRAY, PRAYand PRAY. I can also go to Hesed House today and do my best. Love and prayers, Pat F.

    Comment by Pat F. | September 29, 2008 | Reply

  2. Pat – Sounds like you’ve found a way to bring God’s holy presence to those struggling in Aurora – may God add a divine blessing to all your service to the homeless folks staying at Hesed House!
    peace – Pastor Pat

    Comment by patwoods | September 29, 2008 | Reply

  3. Pr. Pat, My initial feelings about Israel are the same as yours. We probably were touring around at the same time seeing the bible sites. We were in Israel the end of Jan. and took a special day trip into Bethlehem. I so remember the Israeli guards and dog that entered our bus and then as I did some research (talking to the pastor in Jerusalem and others) and started learning about the true situation over in the West Bank I’ve become outraged and saddened about the reality. I’ve done a couple of presentations,and will be doing more, about our trip and have been truly affected by the plight of the Palestinians. My prayers are with you! Karin

    Comment by Karin F | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  4. Karin – I am so glad to hear of your work on behalf of this situation – there is so much to do to get the information to all the people who have no idea what is going on! Please feel free to pass out my blog address if you think it would be helpful. And if I can do anything more to help from over here, please let me know. salaam and blessings – Pastor Pat

    Comment by patwoods | October 1, 2008 | Reply

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