Thursday, June 17, 2010
But that is not the point of this blog. When leaving for Israel two and a half years ago I stated that Christians do not have places that are more holy than others. As Jesus said to the Samaritan woman:
"Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
Thus according to Jesus neither Mount Gerizim where the Samaritans worship nor Jerusalem where Jews had their temple were somehow more holy anymore than any other place.
Having said all of that, my experience does not coincide with my theology. When in Israel I discovered two places in which I “felt” that God was somehow more present: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall (also called the Kotel).
My Celtic ancestors (alright, I have lots of ancestors from other places and other ethnic groups) call places where God seems to be more present “thin places. My theology says they don’t exist, they can’t exist. But my experience is different.
I’m not entirely sure how to describe my experience. Certainly part of it was feelings. Somehow when I touched the Western Wall I had a feeling of peace and a feeling of touching eternity. And in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher I had the same sense. In that spot I felt like I was at the center of Christianity. Somehow the Triune God was present in a way that God is not present in other places.
I have the same sense of presence, what I might call the eternal now when I take communion.
So I wonder if I was to go to Ireland or Scotland (particularly to Iona) would I have the same sense? Or would the Dome of the Rock produce such feelings? We didn’t get a chance to go there when I was in Israel. Besides non Muslims can get kicked off the mount, curiously by Israeli police, for praying on Mount Moriah.
Theology is, for the most part, thinking. It is an attempt to describe the God the Bible speaks about and what God has done, not only in the Biblical record but also since then. Is there a place for feelings alongside theology? Are there really thin places? My Calvinist head says no. My heart says yes.
Someday I want to go back to the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and examine my feelings theologically. Or examine my theology in relation to my feelings.
As for now I have declared a truce between theology and feeling. I simply remember.