So the day began with the usual hilarity over breakfast – an Englishman with failed French ‘O’ level attempting to communicate with a table full of pilgrims from Italy, France, Thailand and New York. Felt like I was in the Tower of Babel as we ate toast with strange jam, cheese and olives, and sliced egg, whilst trying to tell each other what our plans for the day were. Anyway, we played a game with our names as we introduced ourselves again to new people who had arrived – I am Ian White, Jovani Bianco, Jean le Blanc (a personal favourite), and in Arabic Hanna Abiad. White is a good surname to translate.
Reflected a bit more on the Tower of Babel story as I walked out along the Via Dolorosa and through Lions Gate to Gethsemane later in the day. Sitting in The Church of all Nations at the foot of Gethsemane and listening to the quiet murmured prayers and occasional singing in a variety of languages, I just thanked God that in Christ there is a Church for all Nations – and we aren’t some kind of monochrome mass. Somehow not understanding the words sometimes actually frees you to appreciate how the gospel is for All – and how the Good News has carried itself around the world through all cultures. As an old hymn says “For All, for All my Jesus died; For All, for All was crucified”.
Mind you, the moment changed a bit when an American group came in and sang ‘Abide with me’…. all I could think of at that moment was the FA Cup at Wembley!
My mum’s birthday tomorrow, so I was thanking God for her especially, and sad not to be with her over the weekend.