Posted by: revladyem | August 4, 2009

Going Up

As I left the South Capitol METRO and started my trek up to work I thought about the similarities between Capitol Hill and Jerusalem.  That thought consumed my energy as I watched for the similarities and differences.  I love coming up to Capitol Hill and watching as different people scurry about handing their business, whether it is the business of the nation,  vacation, a learning experience, a biking trip, an artistic encounter or a personal sojourn, there is always something going on.  I also love going up to Jerusalem.  And I join those in scurrying around taking in as much of that experience as I can, whether learning or on personal sojourn; while the business of the nation, vacation, a religious encounter, or pilgrimage moves others to and fro.  On my first trip to the old city I recognized that Jerusalem is a city that never sleeps.   While in the evening the traffic appears to dies down on Capitol Hill, it too never sleeps with the closed meetings and other events.

On a Hill

Both Capitol Hill and Jerusalem are set on hills.  Sometimes it gets tiring pulling the slow incline up Capitol Hill, but there is no other way, the nation’s business is handled on “the hill.”  Jerusalem sits on two hills, somewhat like a tooth.  Thank goodness that “the hill” is not a steep as Jerusalem.  That is a real climb.  I also decided on my first trip that Jesus and the disciples had to be physically fit to make those climbs from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem and back.  Scripturally Jerusalem was and still remains a place to be, whether it is for business, celebration, or pilgrimage.  Jesus was brought as a child to Jerusalem.  “When the time came for their purification, according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22 NRSV).  During His life, Jesus joined others in many trips to Jerusalem.  “While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. . . .” (Matt.  20:17 NRSV).  


On Capitol Hill, bills are passed, laws are written, deals are struck, okay, sorry about that one, but you know it is true.  And in our nation petitions are filled, protests are made, causes are presented.  In one day alone, I participated in rallies for healthcare, (yes, everyone needs healthcare), strolled past elegantly created banners for one cause, and crudely made banners for another cause.  I witnessed a silent protest in front of the Supreme Court, and people handing out brochures on another.  It is all in a day’s work.

In Jerusalem laws are made, deals are struck and as we know, Jesus’ demise was hatched.  “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death. . . .” (Matt. 20:18, Mark 10:33 NRSV).   “See we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished” (Luke 18:31 NRSV).  “They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem. . . ” (Mark 10:32 NRSV).


Around Capitol Hill there are many celebrations for many events, including the fireworks for the celebration of the nation.  There are festivals celebrating the diversity of cultures in America.  One of the largest celebration held was the inauguration of Barack Obama, yes, I was there, fortunately on the hill.


Scripturally, Jerusalem was the place to be for the festivals.  “The Passover of the Jews was at was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” (John  2:13 NRSV).    “After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem” (John  5:1 NRSV).  Today many religions make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem just to say they have been there, just to witness the life of the historical Jesus, just to walk the places in scripture, just to be in that number.


Visitors abound everywhere on the Hill whether trying to view a session or taking pictures of the historical sites or just sitting around trying to take it all in.  It is overwhelming and many weary visitors find themselves deciding whether to take one more tour or to get back to the hotel for the day.  I know, I have heard them. Tired, yet determined to see as much as they can, they leave with pictures, souvenirs, and memories of the nation’s capitol.


In Jerusalem, pretty much the same thing happens.  Tired, yet determined to take in as much as one can of this once in a lifetime (for many) chance to be a part of something so significant to their faith belief.  And they leave with pictures, souvenirs and memories.  On my first trip to Jerusalem I was told it would be a trip that I would forever be unpacking.  On my second trip I led a group there and I cried when I saw the walls of Jerusalem before me.  Every time I read scripture – memories.

Going Up

As I thought  about these two historically significant places I marveled at the “going up” and thought about another significant place where we “go up” – in prayer.  And in this place of commune with God, we have that image of “going up,” to meet God, in that secret place.  In that place we handle the business of prayer in giving thanks and placing our petitions, our anxieties before God and attempt to leave our worries and cares with God.  “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made know to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6&7 NRSV).  In prayer, we celebrate God for who God is.  For each time we visit, we sojourn, we linger in that place of prayer, we learn more of the awesomeness of God and we leave that place at little more spiritually transformed.  That is cause for celebration in itself, to be more aware of our identity in God and to have spent more time with God.  And then to present ourselves as one who has been “up,” with God, not boasting but with love for one another and caring about the concerns of mankind that concern God.  If we take serious this time of going up in prayer then we return to do more of God’s work in our own way.  And this time will indeed influence how we treat one another and how we go about caring for all of God’s people.  We come down from that secret place and can better support the issues of justice for all.  It is in going up before God that we come down with concerns for the injustices, be they economical, environmental, health related, and abuses of all kinds. 

Whatever your cause, your concern, bathe it in prayer.  I close with a note from Paul, and my sentiments also.  “Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.  Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak” (Eph. 6:18-20 NRSV).  Type to you later.


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