For the next few weeks, my meditations will grow out of the many thoughts, feelings and prayers from the Holy Land. If you follow me on Facebook, some of this may look familiar as my Lenten Journey this year will contain reflections from my recent trip. Some will be included here. Our first day of touring started here at Qumran, an archaeological dig site for artifacts. Many of the places we went in the Holy Land are or have been archaeological dig sites. When civilizations come to ruin and new civilizations are built on top of them, it takes archaeologists years to uncover the centuries of treasure that lie beneath the surface of the ground. As you travel with me to some of these site over the next few weeks, please let your mind wander. Imagine what it might have been like to be in the streets and valleys and on the hillsides of this beautiful land about 2000 years ago.
The hills of Qumran look out over a vast desert area that leads to the Dead Sea. To look around, it would seem that all of life in this area has been reduced to dust. Appropriate for Ash Wednesday, actually. Much of our lives seem to be arid, dusty, and lifeless as we look out over the expanse. But the hills of Qumran hold treasures untold in the many caves that sit in the sides of the hills. In these caves, animals seek shelter from the hot summer sun, and years ago, devout men of faith sought these hills as a hermitage — a place to get away from it all — a place of solitude and devotion to the Lord.
Years ago, treasures indeed were found in these caves as a shepherd boy wandering through the hills and caves found many scrolls which dated back centuries and centuries, some to 1st Century BCE. These scrolls hold words which remind us that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Devout scribes from centuries before the birth of Christ copied these ancient words to remind themselves and others of God’s love for humanity. Whether in the deserted arid hills and plains of the Qumran Valley and the Dead Sea or in the comfort of your own home, on this Ash Wednesday, remember that the Lord who gave hope to the hopeless in ancient times is the same Lord that walked the shores of Galilee and the same Lord who rose from the dead early one Sunday morning. As we face the next 40 days of self-reflection and intentionality in our spiritual walk with the Lord, allow God to speak during the quiet times to bring new life into your thirsty arid soul.
Rev. Jan McCoy is the Associate Pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at covingtonfirst.org.