I was prayer-bearer my last morning in Jerusalem. I copied the names people sent me from around the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and beyond and offered them to our God in Christ while saying noonday prayer in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I ran them over the anointing stone at the church’s entrance, picking up a good whiff of holy oil, then stuffed them in the deepest crevice I could find in the Western Wall. The rabbis in charge gather the prayers up periodically and bury them on the Mount of Olives. So they will be here forever.
Not everyone will find this ritualism meaningful. God heard your prayer before it went in the Western Wall or on my Facebook wall. God heard the instant you thought of the name. All week I’ve been thinking about someone who wrote early in my time in Jerusalem that it’s too bad we still associate God with places — holy sites, churches, real estate, countries, all the things we covet, hoard, and fight over. God is everywhere. And that’s true. Yet it’s okay to love places — the lake we visited as kids, our grandmother’s house, our favorite chair. Loving places makes life richer. Loving God, too. And for 5,000 years, for better or worse, the two loves have come together in Jerusalem. If I carried your prayer across the Old City today, it is forever a piece of Jerusalem. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.