The curate, St Mary’s Church, Fratton, on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land
It was a cold wintery January morning last week when the Bishop of Portsmouth gathered together his curates – trainee vicars – at Heathrow.
We were flying out to Israel, land of the Holy One, for a week.
It was an opportunity to walk where Jesus would have walked, gain a better understanding of the geography of this fascinating land and to help unpack and reveal the Bible in a new way.
Our pilgrimage started in one of my favourite cities, Jerusalem.
The old city of Jerusalem has a history of being one of the most fought over pieces of earth there is, which is a shame when you consider it is also one which three major faiths revere and love so much.
One of the things that you cannot escape noticing when you visit the old city of Jerusalem is its compact nature and the amount of people living in such close quarters with each other – Jew, Muslim and Christian all living cheek by jowl.
This can lead to problems, as there is competition for everything – space, holy sites and resources.
This lack of space reminds me of Portsmouth, which is one of the most densely populated cities in the country.
There can be that feeling of living on top of each other (both literally in the flats and figuratively) and there can also feel that tension between communities and use of shared spaces.
However what has struck me here – something that is true in our own city too – is that which unites us.
Everyone living here in Jerusalem is seeking the same thing – opportunities to live, to have their families and to grow in safety.
It can be easy to look at the surface things which divide us. It can be easy to turn our backs on the things that are different.
But there is far more that unites us as people, as neighbours, as friends than there is that separates us.
If we can look beyond those differences and find our common humanity we can grow and prosper as a city and as human beings.
St Mary’s Church is in Fratton Road, Fratton. Go to portseaparish.co.uk