The Holy and The Profane

By: Nicole Newman (Washington D.C.)

Israeli soldiers tinker with armor

Adjust guns on hips

Too young to know what damage

A gun that size can do

They watch with scared hard eyes

In some, there is a youthful softness

Like young men in the states drafted

Before they know there are other options

And I wonder who decided who needs to be watched and who are the watchers

And maybe these soldiers like this service

Maybe duty and country are constructs

Only foreign to the descendants of former slaves

Maybe our service looks different

Maybe these soldiers like the power of being able to decide who come and goes

Who loves and lives and dies in an instance

The young girl dead from 5 bullets to the chest

Didn’t adjust

I watch Muslim woman both covered with a hijab and in skinny jeans and think there is something oddly beautiful about tradition with a modern twist

I wonder did her hijab come loose as her body hit the floor

Or was it wrapped so tightly it did not move

What moves here??

What is the currency?? Is it blood?? Is it nationalism? What is being held so tightly??


I have come to hear from living stones

Rocks that will cry out and yet there is something

Both holy and profane about this place


Continue reading


Today was our third day on the ground, and we spent it in Bethlehem. Getting from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is a process, as it always is when one is trying to get from Israel to Palestine and vice versa. In 2004, the Israeli government began building a wall around Palestine for security reasons, making the commute between the two regions lengthy and cumbersome. We walked along the wall on the Palestinian side after making it through the Bethlehem checkpoint. The wall was decorated with beautiful and uplifting graffiti that won’t be found on the Israeli side of the wall. Continue reading

“God Has Really Called Me Here”

IMG_2656Pastor Dustin was talking to us about Matthew 5:13 and talking about salt. We were talking about how we each have our own gifts and we have to bring our gifts and share them to make the world more tasteful. As I’m sitting outside the Brown’s house, I’m looking over Jerusalem. The one place I keep staring at is the Dome of the Rock, I want to know more information about it. Everywhere we go and there’s an outlook, I find it and take a picture. I feel a calling to find more out about it. I’m also looking at the sky. Dustin asked us why we were here, why we felt the call? Continue reading

Walking Beside our Christian Brothers and Sisters

IMG_2642As I write this, we are currently on our 2nd flight.  Our 1st flight was from Fargo to Chicago. This flight is from Chicago to Newark, NJ. From Newark we take a direct flight to Tel Aviv, Israel! That last flight will be just under 11 hours long-and for this girl who has never flown internationally before, that is both exciting, but also a little nerve wracking. Continue reading

Introducing: The Sweet 16


What do you get when you mix 16 ELCA young adults from all over the United States who have flown to Israel and Palestine (with a quick stop in Jordan for a dedication of a church), asking them to learn more about Israel and Palestine in the context of their shared Christian faith, to grow in their leadership skills, connect with other young adults engaged in social justice, get involved with the Peace Not Walls Campaign of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and blog about it?

You get us! (and a ridiculously long sentence).

The sweet 16* are in the midst of a two week experience of a lifetime and will be using this blog to share their reflections along the way.**

Thanks for joining us along the journey! leave a comment, lift up a prayer, and spread the word!

*name decided by Cassie, I’m sure it’ll stick after I tell the group… maybe.

**This is the blog by the sweet 16 (seriously, call us this, it’ll help it stick! …okay, maybe not. I suppose group names should be mutually agreed upon, much like the writing of our group covenant). regardless of what you call us, it’s the blog of the 16 trip participants. in other words, the opinions expressed are the opinions of the individuals writing them and not necessarily the opinions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.