Archive for November, 2018

An Unusual Arrangement for a Church Key
November 27, 2018

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is one of the holiest sites of The Christian faith. Many believe that this is the location where Jesus was crucified and buried.

Church of Holy Sepulchre 1

Church of Holy Sepulchre 2

The third photo above shows visitors entering the memorial structure inside the church, a memorial built over the spot where traditions says that Jesus was buried.

I have visited this Church several times, but only recently did I learn the unusual story of the key.

The key to this world-famous Christian Church is held by a Muslim man and his family, and it has been in his family for centuries.

This began in the early 600s, when Umar ibn Khattab was the second caliph (chief civil and religious leader) of the Muslims. He met in Jerusalem with the Christian Patriarch Sophronius and made an agreement granting Christians right to worship in Jerusalem. Since many Christian denominations wanted to worship at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Umar entrusted the church’s key to a Muslim family for safe keeping.

Actually, the arrangement involves two Muslim families. One family holds the key and carries it to the Church doors every day. A man from another Muslim family uses the key to open the doors. The same process happens every evening to close the doors.

You can learn further details about this arrangement by going online to: key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

November 25, 2018

When we look around us, nearby and throughout the world, we see many things that are cause for discouragement or alarm, but it is good to keep a God-centered view of things so as not to despair.

One writer said something like this: every culture is far from God because of sin, and every culture is near to God because of his love.

God is at work in human history, often in ways we cannot recognize at the time. So, because of God and his promises in the Bible, we have hope.

Some day, the song expressed in the Book of Revelation, chapter 11, verse 15, will be fulfilled:
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ,
and he will reign for ever and ever.”

Birding in Kansas
November 16, 2018

A salt marsh in the middle of the Kansas prairie?

Yes, at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, near Stafford, Kansas.

Quivira has over 22,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie and wetlands. Beneath the refuge, water percolates upward through underground salt layers, producing a saline environment similar to coastal areas and bringing many shorebirds to stop over here in their migrations or to live here year round.

Here the rare whooping cranes stop to feed as they make their 2,500-mile migration between their summer nesting area in the Northwest Territories of Canada, and their wintering area in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the southern coast of Texas.

I was at Quivira on October 19, 2018, and the ranger at the office said that three whooping cranes had been spotted earlier in the day in the northern section of the refuge. So, I made my way there, and sure enough, I spotted the three. Spotted them at a great distance, over a quarter of a mile away! Across salt marsh that is off limits to human visitors. Here is what my cell phone camera recorded.

Can you see three white spots in the distance? Likely not, but those are the cranes! Of course, I wish I could have gotten a much closer view, but that was not possible. But I was glad for the positive identification, and with that, I increased my life list of bird species to 668.

For a pictorial view of these striking birds, you may go to the display area at the refuge office.

The most abundant birds I saw that day were northern shovelers (ducks) and American coots.

Here is another photo I took at Quivira.

Foam swirls on the marsh water with grass.

Inanimate and living, so many beautiful things in our world.