Saturday 19 June 2010

Holy Kissing?

That caught your attention, didn’t it? And I thought it was a suitably enigmatic title for my first blog.

Let me explain. I am recently returned from a trip to the Holy Land, and in the 7 days I spent there I have visited more churches and holy sites than I care to mention. For me, this was a pilgrimage and a profound spiritual experience but I stopped short of the response of many pilgrims. Not for me the bowing before and kissing of places which may (or may not) have been the place of Jesus’ conception, birth, manger, healing miracles, death and resurrection. Perhaps it offends my Protestant sensibilities, but such veneration of place and object seems to lie somewhere on a scale between simple superstition and outright idolatry!

I cannot deny, however, the sense of the sacred that seemed present in so many places. Perhaps it is the association with events in the life of Jesus, or the worship of pilgrims down the centuries? It was deeply moving to observe the varieties of liturgy at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, early on a Sunday morning: Franciscan, Orthodox and others co-existing and worshipping in the same building at the same time. It was awe-inspiring (in the divine sense of the phrase) to share in the Lord’s Supper on the Mount of Olives and overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It was truly faith-building to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

In the end, that may be what it’s all about. To be a pilgrim is to follow Jesus and to journey with him. If visiting biblical sites and touching, even kissing, awakens and strengthens us for the pilgrimage, it can after all be holy!

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to blogland - looking forward to future posts. Whilst in Spain last week I strugled with some of the iconography as it was not Jesus based - one church only had statues/pictures of Jesus as a baby with Mary and the atlar was dedicated to it's saint and it was she whose statue stood behind the altar - my Protestant soul was not happy!