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Thursday, April 18, 2024

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Summer Visitors

Amy Patsch

By Amy Patsch

Summer is around the corner, and as I was doing my Bible readings, it occurred to me that the influx of summer visitors to Cape May County every year is very much like that which occurred in Jerusalem in days long ago.   

Once the Israelites conquered Canaan, all those of the Jewish faith were required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem on special holy days. 

People from all over Israel and even other parts of the world filed into that very small geographic area – so very similar to ours.  

If you close your eyes, you might even imagine that we are walking in the same sandals that the permanent dwellers of Jerusalem did over 2,000 years ago. 

There was excitement in the air when all the relatives and friends came back home. Of course, not everyone had family in Jerusalem and so there were many strangers looking for a place to stay to enjoy the festivities. 

As I was considering this mix of people, I thought of Jesus’ disciples. There was much diversity among them. Would Matthew the tax collector have been keen on sharing a room with Peter the fisherman or vice versa? How about James and John, the Sons of Thunder? Don’t they just sound like a pair of fellows my husband, Neil, and I might enjoy having over for a barbeque on a Friday evening?  

I wonder if I lived next door to Jesus’ group staying in an Airbnb, would I be welcoming to them? 

Some of those who followed Jesus would also make me a bit leery – I’m thinking of the recently demon-possessed Mary. Just try to think of a subject that would be safe to broach for small talk over the backyard fence. And yet, she knew Jesus! 

We know that this unlikely group of disciples and followers went everywhere Jesus went and so they also were part of the crowds going into Jerusalem.  

Really, it made me consider how I would react if this group came strolling down the boardwalk towards me. Of course, I wouldn’t recognize any of them, but would my first reaction be negative?   

Would I think they were boisterous or rude for walking five across, talking and laughing and not even considering that no one else could get by?    

How I see others at first glance or first meeting doesn’t give me a full picture of them for sure. I know quite lovely people with plenty of piercings and tattoos and yet when I am out and about, these same things seen on a stranger make me edgy. Why? Because those folks are not like me. 

Being different doesn’t always mean a negative. From experience I can affirm that there are a lot of people who don’t fit my same profile and yet those very people can make me jealous of their strong commitment and love for Jesus. This is something I would never know about them until we met and spoke.   

Most probably I have missed chances to know even more wonderful people because we have looked at each other through stereotypes. 

The people who flowed into Jerusalem were not unlike the crowds we experience on our boardwalks, roads, and restaurants during our summer seasons. They were a very diverse group, with some being foreigners – and so are our visitors.  

They were headed to Jerusalem for a particular reason – as are our visitors.    

Everyone is seeking something special when they come to Cape May County. Some are looking for a good time whether they are shopping or relaxing on the beach. Others want to experience everything they can in the short time they are here.  

Some people are actually seeking to learn – think of The Wetlands Institute, the Harriet Tubman Museum, the Coast Guard Training Center, or the Cape May Lost Fisherman’s Memorial. 

Looking at the summer influx of visitors through new eyes has made me consider what I might miss if I do not give my best welcome to each of them.    

Might I have passed by Jesus walking through Jerusalem? Might I now not recognize one of His servants walking through Ocean City? 

I am determined that I do not want to miss a single thing that my Savior has prepared for me. With that in mind, I believe Jesus is telling me that this summer, as I move throughout our town, I am not to fret that the traffic is congested, but instead I am to thank God that He allows me to live in such a wonderful place.    

I am to pray for our visitors for their safety and enjoyment of the island that Neil and I get to call home. And, through the power of Him, I am to greet everyone with a smile provided by Jesus.  

I’m game for this new attitude! Will you join me?  

ED. NOTE: Amy Patsch writes from Ocean City.Email her atwriterGoodGod@gmail.com. 

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