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HERALDING NEWS FROM NORTHEASTERN SEMINARY VOL. 10, NO. 6 ■ NOVEMBER 2013 by Doug Cullum, vice president and dean Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5 THERE ARE MANY ADVANTAGES OF MAKING A JOURNEY TO THE HOLY LAND. An on-locationimmersion in the history and geography of the biblical narrative makes the Bible come alive in a fresh way. The stories are no longer distant, flat, or abstract. The stories of the Bible become multi-dimensional and packed with new insight. Having the opportunity to see the sights Jesus saw, walk the streets he walked, and breathe the air he breathed can transform the way we think about the extraordinary measures God took to invest in humanity. But there’s more: Going to the Holy Land can be dangerously disruptive to the way one worships God. It has the potential to transform one’s practice of worship by renewing one’s sense of place. Philip Sheldrake points to this potential transformation when he reminds us that “the concept of place refers not simply to a geographical location but to a dialectical relationship between environment and human narrative. Place is a space that has the capacity to be remembered and to evoke what is most precious” (Spaces for the Sacred: Place, Memory, and Identity, 1). In the Holy Land, whether following the wanderings of the Hebrew people, the footsteps of Jesus, or the journeys of the Apostle Paul, one cannot help but come faceto-face with the multiple connections between place, memory, and our identity as human beings. And this, in turn, can be a powerful force in shaping the way we think about the vocation of guiding the people of God in worship. Immersion in the Holy Land—as holy ground and holy place—challenges my thinking and practice of worship. That is, a theology of place takes seriously the incarnational, historical, and spatial aspects of worship. A trip to the Holy Land is a forceful reminder that our faith is not merely, or even primarily, a collection of religious affirmations. The Bible is not a book of systematic theology that dispenses theoretical truth. Rather, it is (continued) A Theology of Place In Context, In Israel Theology Symposium Spring Classes Consortium for Theological Schools Upcoming Events Community News

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