Lection Connection

June 5, 2022: Pentecost

From Paul Turley

 

The Jerusalem Post calls the Temple Mount “one of the most contested religious sites in the world.” This 36-acre site at the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem is a holy site for Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

 

The current Temple Mount dates from the time of Herod the Great who, in his expansion and remodelling of the second temple, extended and fortified the site. Sacred to Jews as the site of the first temple, built, as tradition and the Hebrew scriptures have it, by King Solomon; as the site where Abraham bound his son Isaac; and as the location of the Foundation Stone which, according to the Talmud, was the spot from where the world was created and expanded into its current form.

 

The site is sacred to Islam for many of the same reasons and because it was the site of Muhammad’s journey to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven. The site is sacred to Christians, not least for many of the same reasons as it is for the Jews and because it was the site of several events in the life of Jesus.

 

In recent times, the uneasy truce that has allowed both Jews and Palestinians to visit the Temple Mount has come under strain. As The Jerusalem Post explains, “Under informal arrangements known as the status quo, Jews are allowed to visit the site but not pray there. In recent years, they have visited in ever-increasing numbers with police escorts, and many have discreetly prayed, angering the Palestinians as well as neighbouring Jordan, which is the custodian of the site.”

 

Earlier this month, Israeli police entered the holy site to clear away Palestinian protesters, after Jewish visits that had been paused for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday resumed. In April, violence erupted on the first day of Passover and the Christian observance of Good Friday. Following Muslim prayers at dawn, several hundred young Palestinian men launched a rock-throwing campaign against Israeli police, whose job is to keep the peace on the Temple Mount. Waiting until Muslim prayers ended, Israeli police entered the al-Aqsa Mosque and arrested 470 men to quell the violence. Later in the month, a Palestinian man who suffered a serious head injury during the early April clashes died of his wounds.

 

Palestinians said that the man, Walid a-Sharif, 21, was hit by a sponge-tipped bullet during the clashes on April 22. Israeli police said he was injured after he fell and hit his head while throwing rocks. According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, 31 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops since late March.

 

With Ramadan, Passover, and Easter having passed for another year, Israeli and Palestinian authorities expect violent clashes to subside, at least for another year.

 

Explore… Acts 2:1–21

  • Three of the elements of the experience of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 have great resonance in the Hebrew scriptures. The language of wind and fire is present in our ancient texts. How does referring to their presence in the scriptures help deepen the meaning of this event for you?
  • What might it mean for contemporary faith communities that God “pours out” God’s Spirit on women and slaves, two of the least powerful and consequential groups in that culture?

 

Prayer…

God, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We pray that the three faiths so visibly represented on the Temple Mount might focus on the deep human and God-given truths that unite them and not on the long histories that have divided them. May that sacred site be a beacon of hope for your world. Amen.

 

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