Over the past few days, I’ve been posting pictures of the Holy Land on Instagram because we were there on pilgrimage one year ago. So much has changed in one brief year, and yet so much remains fundamentally the same. The callous hardness of war seems endemic and irreparable in that area of the world, infused in the very stones…and yet, those stones can also tell other stories….

Last year, I shared a picture of the Zion Gate in Jerusalem, riddled with bullet holes from the 1948 war. Yes, those images pale in comparison with the destructive bombing of Gazan homes, churches, mosques, and businesses today. Over the decades, human technology has become much more effective at destruction…and yet, our technology has also become much more effective in helping us to spread love and fund organizations on the front lines like World Central Kitchen and Doctors without Borders….

I state that violence and destruction are endemic because we saw signs of that all over the Holy Land. The record in the stones goes back millennia. As seen in the picture I posted last week, evidence of violence in the land goes all the way back to Jericho, when Israelites first invaded the land of Canaan.

And yet, the stones themselves endure. Jericho was rebuilt, using the same stones that had fallen from the walls toppled by Joshua’s trumpets. The bullet-riddled stones of the Zion Gate still stand in mute testimony to the violence, and the gate still serves its purpose.

Sometimes, stones are not reused, but remain where they have fallen. The photo above shows the stones of the Jerusalem temple that Jesus knew. That temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE when they threw the huge stones off the walls of the platform (seen to the right) onto the stone-paved street below.

That pile of stones remains as testimony to the power of violent destruction…and yet, the walls of the platform itself remain standing. In fact, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount is part of that same platform. It has withstood destruction for more than two thousand years. This doesn’t mean it couldn’t be destroyed today, should the war move farther east and north. So far, it has not.

Stones in the Holy Land illustrate a tumultuous past. We don’t know what the future holds, but perhaps the witness of enduring stones will help us envision a way forward.

Please join me in praying for peace in the Holy Land and doing what you can to spread love and fund help on the front lines….

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