Tag Archives: Jerusalem


I walked the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem for the first time during January Term, 2016. At each station of the Via Dolorosa, we sang and read scripture while the world went on around us. I tried to imagine Jesus roughly pushed out into the street, amidst yelling vendors and children playing loud games. Did everything become silent when Jesus stumbled? Or did the world’s noise just continue?

We entered several small chapels along the way. At the seventh station I sat down in the chapel with a sigh, and reached for my water bottle. No scourging, no cross, no crown of thorns, no crowd screaming for my murder, no betrayal or heartbreak,  but I was still tired. And thirsty. Lord, have mercy.

We marked the last five Stations in the courtyard behind the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It was around noon, appropriately. Three people in non-Western robes, with covered hair and dark skin, were there when we arrived. As the bell struck 12, one of the men walked around a domed structure in the courtyard three times. He and I bowed our heads to each other in greeting.

We entered the church through the Ethiopian worship space, passing by two women reading and praying. I thought of Anna, “continually in the temple praising God.” I’d never considered that people today come and sit in the church all day, just to be there.

Continually praising God.

The sites in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were profound, overwhelming, wonderful. After I recovered from the amazement of seeing the tomb, I enjoyed watching others stream into the holy place. I needed to see myself surrounded by the communion of saints, and needed to see them all drawn to the same place I was.

I thank God for the random, blessed intersection of people at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the vendors we walked past, and the construction worker who looked at us as we sang at the First Station, and the two young Jewish boys gleefully laughing, expertly weaving in and out of our group on their way home.

TO MY DAD by Anna Johnson, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem

Anna Johnson, 23, finished a B.A. last year and now lives and works on the Mount of Olives in the office of the Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem.  She is the daughter of Andrew Johnson, Executive Assistant to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, and Kathy Gerking, an ELCA Pastor and Wartburg Seminary graduate.  In her Father’s Day note to Andy, she reflects on some aspects of being a Pastor’s Kid when it’s your mom who is the pastor.  She tells her dad:

…how awesome I think YOU are for supporting her. Since entering the “real” world, I have realized that there are still a lot of discrepancies and prejudices in how our world treats men and women. Even amongst couples I have a great deal of respect for, I have noticed that not only do traditional “gender” roles hold fast, but power disparity often does as well. Funny thing is that I really thought this stuff was probably a thing of the past growing up, and I have you and Mom to thank for that.

I am not sure I ever told you about a moment in one of my classes last year when someone was talking about how there are men out there who take care of things in the household and take care of the kids, etc – and we were all talking about this as some sort of novel concept – until a lightbulb went off in my head and I realized that “hey! my dad did those things when I was growing up, too! that’s not weird!… is it??” Kind of like hearing Uncle Paul talk about seeing a one-armed man and feeling sorry for him before it hit him “hey! my dad only has one arm!” Except that the “weird” thing about my dad is that he is a feminist rather than that he is missing any limbs.

In other words, I have loved learning more about the parts of your relationship (from engagement, to wedding, and beyond!) that other people might find “quirky” or too progressive, but that I grew up thinking were normal. I am proud to have a dad who was a strong enough man to marry a woman who did not change her name and who has always supported her career opportunities. Patriarchy is alive and well in our society and in our churches (and at times, in our family), and while this angers me on countless levels, I think in some way I feel less personally wounded by it than many others because at least I grew up in a household that shows hope for how more relationships might be in the future – and society can only change when we change how we ourselves act in relationship with one another….

I love you!