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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    Micah 6:8 Holy Land Tour

    February 26, 2018 / By Rev. Dr. Cathy Hall Stengel

    With anticipation and curiosity, 111 of us boarded planes on Jan. 9 for Bishop Webb’s Holy Land Tour. We walked to places where God’s word was land-and-water real. If not here than near is what our guide, FJ taught us. We were moved by storm and stones on and near the Sea of Galilee. We felt the drops of storm on our faces as we remembered Peter’s desire to walk on the water. We held stones on the shore in Tiberius, rolled and shaped by wave and wind. We breathed in the Holy Land air. We put our faces to the Holy Land sun. We relished Holy Land food steeped in Holy Land fellowship around tables. We walked; we touched; our hearts were moved by the power of the story, God’s story on this Holy Land.

    Micah 6:8 act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly with our God. God created the faces we met – Israeli, Palestinian, Arab, Muslims, Christians, religious, secular. Our guides spoke these Micah 6:8 words; the President of Bethlehem Bible College spoke these Micah 6:8 words. The faces are the windows to the image of God, and we are surely all created in that same image. The land cries out to be treated justly, tenderly and for God’s people, all God’s people.

    The people of God – the people of God spread across this land we call holy – they are created in the image of God, yes, repeated. The stones themselves are crying out – let my people live together in peace, in faith, in justice, in tenderness, in humility.

    We were surely moved by the places Jesus walked, the place where Jesus met the Samaritan woman, the path from Nazareth to Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane. We wept; we asked for healing; we laughed; we learned. We learned that God still yearns for a Micah 6:8 world, and we are God’s hands and feet.

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    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."