“As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!” Luke 41-411 NRSV
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Matthew 23:37, RSV
Five years ago I was privileged to participate in a Clergy Pilgrimage to the Holy Land through the Cousins Family Foundation and Columbia Theological Seminary. On that pilgrimage we saw many of the holy sites but there was one in particular that took me by the heart and shook me and shakes me still. It was the Dominus Flevit – a place I had never heard of – an experience of haunts me still. The Dominus Flevit is a church built in 1955 upon an old Byzantine site on the top of the Mount of Olives overlooking the Kidron Valley. The church is a small domed-shaped building. The front side is all glass resembling a tear drop. The church marks the site where Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and wept. He wept over the unwillingness of the faithful to recognize him and to allow him to heal their wounds and release them from the chains of sin and separation that bound them. He wept because he realized that it was going to destroy itself by walking in the way of violence.
On this Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Delegation it is that image that keeps coming back to me – over and over and over again –
I see God weeping:
Weeping over the bodies and souls of the oppressed and the oppressors;
Weeping over Jews and Palestinians, Druze and Christians, Muslims – people of every faith and no faith – who continue to fail to recognize God and allow God to heal our wounds and release us from the chains of sin and separation that bind US;
Weeping over walls designed to protect, provide security, keep the others – the enemies out but in reality only imprison, create more insecurity, keep the others – our brothers and sisters out of our lives, our hearts, our minds, our souls;
Weeping over our refusals to see, to hear, to understanding, to “stand under” the burdens of the others – OUR brothers and sisters – US;
Weeping over the land, the water, the walls, the barbed wire, the guns, the bombs, the deprivation, the inhumanity, the humiliation, the systematic removal of rights and righteousness;
Weeping over hateful, shameful words and weeping over the uninformed and cowardly silence;
Weeping over the violence all around, about, among and within;
Over and over and over again – I see God weeping:
Weeping over my/our refusals to “let the ears that I/WE have HEARD and the eyes that I/WE HAVE SEEN”;
Weeping over my/our failure “to love The Lord, my God, with all my heart and soul, and strength”;
Weeping over my/our failure and, sometimes my/our outright refusal, ” to love MY neighbor”;
Weeping over my/our persistent questioning, “who is my neighbor?”;
Over and over and over again, God, you weep – thank you for loving us so much.
Over and over and over again, God, you forgive – thank you for loving us so much.
Over and over and over again, God, you refuse to give up on me/us – thank you for loving us SO much.
Over and over and over again, God, you urge me, call me, teach me, command me, inspire me/us to weep – thank you for loving ME/US SO MUCH.
From the very beginning, you are God.
Thank you for my/our very beginning and new beginnings.
Over and over and over again, thank you, God. Teach me to weep and “weep with those who weep”;
Over and over and over again, God, teach me to DO more than just weep;
Teach me to care, comfort, accompany, give up, take on, follow, serve, love with heart – soul – mind and strength;
Teach me never to have to ask, “who is MY NEIGHBOR”;
Over and over and over again…to love my neighbors…all of them…every single last one of them…till your kingdom comes, your will be done, on this EARTH as it is in HEAVEN…Amen.