This past May I traveled to Israel, for my first ever trip to the Holy Land. Our first four days were spent in the north, in Galilee, and that sojourn included a visit to New Testament Bethsaida, just north of the Sea of Galilee. It is in Bethsaida that Jesus called several of his disciples. Bethsaida is one of those fishing villages in which Jesus spent considerable time. But Bethsaida was not always a small hamlet. A thousand years prior to Jesus’ life, in the time of David, it was the capital of the kingdom of Geshur. It was to Geshur that the young David traveled to find a wife. It was to Geshur that David’s son Absalom fled after he’d murdered his brother Amnon.
“Scientists say giant asteroid could hit the earth next week, causing mass devastation.” [i] That headline screamed across the online news feed on July 9th, Saturday a week ago. The opening sentences of the story were these: “Scientists have discovered a massive asteroid that is on course to hit the Earth next week and are scrambling to find a way to divert the object. The asteroid has been named 2016-FI and measures approximately 1 km across. If it strikes a populated area, it could wipe out entire cities and potentially devastate an entire continent.”
I returned home last night from two weeks in Costa Rica. The first week I was part of Christ Church Cathedral’s mission team of sixteen teenagers and eleven adults. We worked at an Episcopal church and school in the village of Estrada on the Caribbean side of the country. There, Afro-Caribbean and Latino Costa Ricans worked alongside our mission team, who represented at least three ethnic groups from the United States. I was struck, scarcely six days ago, by what a gift it was that such disparate people, separated by language, culture, and skin color, could work, eat, and laugh alongside one another for the sake of the Good News of God’s grace for all people.