Before we entered the Jerusalem city walls on temple mount, we were given a list of do’s and don’ts…
- Do not wear jewelry or clothing with any religious symbols
- Do not bring a “holy book” – in our case, a Bible (Since the 23rd psalm is printed on the cover of my journal, I was told to leave it on the bus. So I journaled on hotel stationary.)
- Do wear clothing that covers your knees and shoulders
The first two were pretty stern warnings, and I guess the third point about covering my knees was also, but I had to laugh. I wore shorts today, but they were longer shorts so I just wore ‘em really low in order to cover my knees. That’s what I found rather amusing: they actually have “fashion police.”
We took a few moments on the steps leading up to the southern entry of the walled city of Jerusalem. These steps were the same ones present at the time of Jesus. Pretty cool to think that Jesus’ dusty, sandaled feet were right there in that vicinity. And likely His disciples with Him.
Ariel (our guide) showed us how these original steps were intentionally uneven. By “uneven” I don’t mean they were not level, but rather that some steps were deeper than others, and also other steps were varying heights.
Ariel went on to tell us that the Jewish sages teach that the steps leading up to the city are uneven in order to make people pay attention. You can’t carry on a normal conversation without looking where you are stepping; every step is intentional.
Some of us were discussing this over lunch (which was a kosher pizza in the Jewish Quarter). We drew a couple simple parallels from those uneven steps. First, we agreed that it would be wise if we paid attention and were more intentional as we approached a worship service. Rather than causally making our way into church, what if we were intentionally focused on preparing our hearts and minds for what was about to take place?
Someone else from our group also thought that “uneven steps” could also mean breaking from routines in both our corporate worship services and also our personal devotions. Rather than casually going through the motions, it would force us to pay close attention to where we are spiritually as well as where God may be leading us.
Let’s admit that regardless of our religious heritage, we have accumulated a long list of “do’s and don’ts” that we subscribe to. These subconscious laws can become ruts and routines, in which case we would be wise to consider taking uneven steps in order to help us pay better attention to the One we worship.
Again… tired. More tomorrow. Thanks for your prayers and keeping up with our pilgrimage.