BISHOP OF PORTSMOUTH: Let me tell you a story about a bus station

Bishop Christopher reflects while on a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee
Bishop Christopher reflects while on a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee
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The Rt Rev Christopher Foster reflects on his recent trip to the Holy Land

Just a couple of weeks ago, I returned to the UK after taking a group of our newest clergy on a trip to the Holy Land, to see Jerusalem, Galilee, and all sorts of places associated with the life of Jesus.

The bus station in Jerusalem in front of the rocky outcrop where Jesus may have been crucified

The bus station in Jerusalem in front of the rocky outcrop where Jesus may have been crucified

There are so many stories people can tell you about places that they have seen.

In and around Jerusalem there are many places that you’ll probably have heard of one way or another.

So instead, let me tell you about a bus station.

This bus station was fairly close to the place we were staying in Jerusalem, and at first glance it was like a fairly ordinary bus station.

There were quite a few tourist coaches coming through, regular buses and minibuses taking passengers around the city and beyond.

It was pretty busy, as you can imagine, and because of that there was quite a bit of noise.

It was the kind of place where you could imagine hurried comings and goings, tired commuters, intrigued tourists, lost people trying to work out which way they should be going.

Oh, by the way, it was right next to a rocky outcrop which is thought by some to be the place where Jesus was crucified 2,000 years ago.

A lot of what we saw was like that, the ancient and the modern squeezed right up against each other.

And for the pilgrim who might be wanting to meditate on the crucifixion of Jesus, the bus station might be something of a nuisance, with all the bustle getting in the way of their quiet thoughts and prayers.

But that is why the bus station is so important.

You see, we don’t know exactly where Jesus was crucified, but we do know this: it was somewhere outside the city centre, but in a place where people were likely to pass by. Not unlike a bus station.

And suddenly, with that thought in mind I’m reminded again that the Christian faith isn’t at all about retreating from normal life or getting away from the real world.

Everything that we’re told about Jesus happens in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, because that’s what God cares about.

So whatever we see around us, good or bad, noisy or complicated, exciting or worrying, that’s the world in which Jesus walked.