Worshiping in Jerusalem
A RECENT article in this newspaper was entitled ``Israelis and Palestinians Strive For Spiritual and Political Home.'' It included the views of a rabbi and a Palestinian activist. The interview with the rabbi stated: ``Today, Jews believe that worshiping in Jerusalem is essential to serving God, many of whose 613 Biblical commandments can be fulfilled only here.'' At the same time, the interview with the Palestinian pointed out: ``So sacred is Jerusalem, Muslims believe, that a good deed committed here has 1,000 times the normal weight, while a sin committed here has 1,000 times the normal gravity.''1 Opinions and sentiments concerning Jerusalem run deep and are strongly felt. But does this love of Jerusalem have to cause turmoil, division, and grief among worshipers of various faiths? As I read the article, I couldn't help thinking of the spiritual meaning of the Biblical Jerusalem given in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. It states in part: ``...the pride of power and the power of pride; sensuality; envy; oppression; tyranny. Home, heaven.''2
The modern city of Jerusalem seems to be the object of a struggle for power involving pride, envy, oppression, tyranny. But those last two words -- ``home, heaven'' -- indicate the spiritual substance of what all those seeking control of Jerusalem are really searching for.
Everyone wants to feel he or she has a home, wants to feel closer to God. As religious thinkers, we can all come to recognize that the true home and heaven we seek is spiritual.
As I was thinking about this issue, I came across the Biblical account of Christ Jesus' speaking with a Samaritan woman. She said to him that while her people worshiped in a particular mountain, the Jews say ``Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.'' The account then states: ``Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.... But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.''3
Obviously, if God -- the one God that Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike worship -- is Spirit, we must worship him spiritually. Worshiping a physical location is not spiritual worship. A certain physical location, while it may be loved and valued for the holy events that took place there, is not of itself holier than another place. God, Spirit, fills all space, is omnipresent. So, in reality we are always dwelling at home in Him. And we are always able to experience the heaven of His presence, as we worship Him in the way that He requires. It is in our hearts and minds and daily deeds that we must honor God -- by loving Him and living in accord with His will for perfect goodness.
As the people of the world who hold the city of Jerusalem so dear -- no matter what their religion -- come to see that God is everywhere, they can increasingly give up the envy, pride, and tyranny that fuel their struggle over the city of Jerusalem. And they can seek to abide in the true Jerusalem -- in the true home and heaven which consists of the consciousness of the presence of God. This is the true home of all citizens of the world, for we are all the children of God.
1The Christian Science Monitor, April 13, 1990. 2Science and Health, p. 589. 3John 4:20, 21, 23, 24.