I’ve told some of the women in my Bible study group that my favorite word lately is “mercy.” It does keep popping up everywhere. Two of our pastoral call candidates used the word “mercy” when we interviewed them, and I knew they were good pastors, compassionate and kind. My friend Debbie and I restarted the Mercy group at church after Pastor Matt left, to organize more of us to go visit our homebound and to look after our sick and struggling. My blog is named “Mercies and Joys” because it seems like everything that God gives us falls under one or both of those categories. I am so dependent on God’s mercy every day, every hour, every minute. He gives it to me in abundance.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
And then there is the Mount of Beatitudes. I’ve saved the Mount of Beatitudes in my heart all this time since our Holy Land trip. It really was my favorite place in the Holy Land and so special to me. After we left Jerusalem, we stopped at Mt. Tabor and Nain, but then came to the Mount of Beatitudes to stay a few nights. Catholic nuns run a “hospice” on the Mount, and there are nice hotel rooms, a conference center, a church, and the most beautiful grounds overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
We were tired and went to bed pretty quickly after Compline the first night. Due to jet lag, I had been waking early every morning (luckily I only woke really early–3am–the first morning in Jerusalem, otherwise it was usually dawn). The first morning on the Mount of Beatitudes, I woke up to the sun rising over the Sea of Galilee. Because we arrived in the dark, I was pleasantly surprised that our room was facing it. Every morning after, I looked out the window for as long as I could. And if I hadn’t had to get the kids up, I would’ve been out there. They were still, peaceful mornings, full of grace.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
I walked along the grounds one morning after breakfast and took in the beautiful plants and the plaques and tiles. Our last night there, we ate St. Peter’s fish for dinner (apparently it is tilapia, who knew). I’ve never had a whole fish before– it was good!
Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.
The next morning, we had our last Divine Service with Pastor Matt. We read the whole Sermon on the Mount, taking a section each, and when we had communion, we all drank from the common cup. I had already spent his last Divine Service at Gloria Dei crying my eyes out, so I tried to just enjoy the moment and receive God’s mercy into my mouth and my soul. Our Lord’s Supper was, as it should be, the culmination of everything. Every moment was cherished.
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
God is close to me everywhere, but He was palpably close there. He gave me mercy, comfort, and a deep joy that has not left. Since then, my desire to help people, to befriend them, to be kind and encouraging to them has strengthened. I am blessed.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
We left the Mount of Beatitudes and went to Cana, Nazareth, and ultimately, Tel Aviv, where we said goodbye to some of our pilgrims who were not going on to Jordan with us the next day. It was a beautiful pilgrimage. I hope I get to go again someday. But if I don’t, it was enough.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.