Usually, I begin my Summer sports season by watching the Tour de France. It is a very complicated and fascinating race. Over a span of about 3 weeks, the cyclists travel over 2000 miles throughout most of France. Sometimes the tour goes through other countries as well. Because of COVID, this year’s tour was delayed until this week.
Cyclists are organized into teams, with 8 or 9 riders in each team at the start of the race. Most of the teams which were organized when I first started following the tour have disbanded and reorganized. As cyclists travel through the day’s course, there are feature stories about the teams, the sponsors and the noted names of the sport.
On Tuesday, there was a story on the first Israeli team to be present at the Tour de France. It is called Israel Start Up Nation. There are a total of 30 riders, some with former Tour experience. Not all 30 are competing in the tour this year. What caught my attention in the story was when all team members met in Israel and began to journey through the nation.
Team members were shown cycling on the road between Galilee and Jericho. This was followed by images of Jerusalem from the top of the Mount of Olives, a visit to the Western Wall, the Holy Sepulchre and to the Holocaust Museum. The team spent time in a youth camp, to build relationships and introduce cycling to a new generation.
Each of the cyclists interviewed spoke about how moving it was for them to spend time in the Holy Land. Their visit created a spiritual bond that was unrelated to cycling. They were moved by their shared experience.
As I watched the story of Israel Start Up Nation, I was reminded that we too have a shared heritage of faith. If you have not yet made a visit to the Holy Land, I hope that you will be able to do so. Seeing the Holy City from the top of the Mount of Olives, or touching the Western Wall are life changing moments which simultaneously affirm who we are and offer glimpses into the mystery surrounding who’s we are.
Our journey of faith is ongoing. It is always full of wonder, reflection, affirmation and celebration. Our lives are constantly being shaped by the one who called us to become disciples and share the Good News of the risen Savior. Our mission is renewed daily as we continue to ask what more can I do for those who hunger and thirst for a holy meal and living water? Our hearts are strangely warmed as we take on the mantle of discipleship and servant leadership. May we be blessed by all that we say and do in God’s name. And Amen.