Thirsting for Hope and Strength in the Land of the Holy One

Tensions have been rising in the Holy Land, with tragic consequences for those on both sides. Our hearts go out to those who are suffering, and our prayers are grounded in Jesus’  teaching - ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ (Mathew 5, verse 9).

Sometimes we need to dig deep to find hope. I am reminded of Jacob’s Well, in the city of Nablus in the West Bank. In the Gospel according to St John we read that Jesus came to Sychar; ‘near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well…’ (John 4. 5,6ff.) Jesus rested there, in what was then a place of great contention (between Jews and Samaritans). He talked with a woman who came to draw water from the well and he led her to a new and transforming place in her life. Jacob’s Well is very deep, and any journey to reconciliation that is rooted in justice and blossoms in peace, will always call for us to go far below the surface of our everyday lives, and all that we see around us and presume to be self-evident.

Many centuries before Jesus came to that well, Jacob had dreamt of a ladder reaching up to heaven, with the angels of God ascending and descending on it. When he woke from his dream he exclaimed; Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it. This is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven’ (Genesis 28.16,17). Jesus is ‘the gate of heaven’. When seek his will he is in our midst, and he will lead us to a new and transforming place. As St Paul tells us, Jesus has ‘broken down the dividing wall between us, that is the hostility’ (Ephesians 2.14).

Jesus came among us to seek and to save, and he is with us still. Let us pray for all who yearn for justice and peace in the Land of the Holy One, and in every part of the world. Jesus is the One in whom all God’s age-old promises are still finding their fulfilment.

Blessed are the peacemakers!

John Reese