Still More Mount Zion and More

Our last stop of Saturday morning was at the grave of Oskar Schindler, the subject of the book, and movie, Schindler's List:

Chris Retz, one of our group, talked passionately about Schindler, and about Christians' relationship to Jews and Israel.

After lunch at Ramat Rachel, we drove to the Garden Tomb, where we saw "Gordon's Calvary"...

....and the Garden Tomb, a wonderful place to visualize the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of our Lord:

After a sweet time of worship (we sang "In the Garden" and "He Lives," read Luke 24:1-9, and shared communion), our bus driver took us to Jaffa Gate, where some of us commenced the Ramparts Walk on the wall of Jerusalem from Jaffa Gate to New Gate:

A twenty minute walk from the New Gate, and we were back at our hotel!

A full, sweet day, and still there is dinner and a lecture entitled "Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus!"

Tomorrow we rise early and set out for Caesarea, Megiddo, Nazareth, Cana...and our hotel by the Sea of Galilee!

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More Mount Zion and More

As mentioned in the previous post, St. Peter in Gallicantu is one of the most beautiful churches you'll ever see:

It is on the likely site of Caiaphas's house where Jesus was imprisoned (and later his apostles), and where Peter, in Caiaphas's courtyard, denied Jesus:

The amazing door, crafted by a Jewish, Christian, and Muslim artist, depicts the moment when Jesus tells Peter he will deny the Lord. The finger of Jesus, in relief, not only points to Peter...but also to the person approaching the church.

The first chapel, on the site of Caiaphas's palace, is utterly magnificent:

And the stained glass design if the dome overhead, likewise:

A staircase descends to another chapel, on the site of the courtyard, where Peter denied Jesus, and some of the courtyard pavement is preserved and incorporated in the floor's design:

And then our journey took us to the prison where Peter and John were likely kept, and further down into the pit, where Jesus was held the night of his trial:

We read Psalm 88, the messianic psalm associated with this night in Jesus' life.

Then we went outside to the Roman steps on which Jesus would have walked from the Upper Room to the Mount of Olives...and back again, the second time, under arrest.

Mount Zion and More

Saturday began with a stop at the Southern Steps, the teaching steps of the Temple, where Jesus taught. We read John 7:10-24 and, while gazing on the location of the Beautiful Gate, Acts 3:1-11:

We weren't able to get onto the steps; for some reason they are closed.

From there we drove the short distance to the Zion Gate (scene of a pitched battle in the Six Day War) and from there we walked to the coenaculum, the traditional site of the Upper Room where Jesus had the Last Supper with his disciples:

We read Luke 22:7-20 here, and then went directly below, to the "Tomb of King David." While King David is certainly not buried there (1 Kings 2:11), it is likely that some later kings of Judah are.

Just a short walk later, we arrived at the Syrian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, the church of our guide Nader:

This church is on a site maintained since the first century as being the location of the home of Mary, John Mark's mother, and thus the possible site of the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples:

We read John 20:19-23 and Acts 11:19-26 here:

From there we returned to the bus and took a short drive to St. Peter in Gallicantu, the site of the house of Caiaphas and one of the most beautiful churches you'll ever hope to see! That's where the next post will begin.

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Afternoon in the Old City

After a fine lunch and shopping visit at Caprice, a diamond manufacturer and merchant, we returned to the Old City through the Lion's Gate:

We took a short walk to the northwest corner of the Temple Mount, where we visited the Pool of Bethesda. We read John 5:1-15, and had healing prayer for one of the members of our group who is scheduled to begin chemotherapy treatments the day after our return. There may be no more appropriate place to pray for healing than here, where Jesus healed the man who had been crippled for 38 years:

Right next to the Pool of Bethesda is the Church of St. Anne, the mother of Mary, on the site tradition says was the birthplace of Mary:

This church, the only intact Crusader church inside the Old City, has some of the finest acoustics you'll ever hear for a capella singing:

When we entered, a group of Polish Christians was singing a song we didn't know. After they moved on, we sang Amazing Grace, How Great is Our God, and How Great Thou Art together. It sounded amazing!

We then trekked a little ways to the bus and returned to the hotel in plenty of time for the start of Shabbat!

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Morning in the Old City (Part Two)

Our experience of the Via Dolorosa culminated, of course, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is in all likelihood the actual place of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection:

There we read John 19:28-42, and then visited and prayed at the site of the crucifixion (where the bedrock at the top of Calvary has been left open to sight around the altar):

And the "stone of unction," where tradition says Jesus' body was laid to prepare for burial after coming down from the cross:

And, "close at hand" as the Gospel says in John 19:42, the site of the most momentous event in human history, the tomb of Jesus, marked by "the edifice," a boxlike chapel within the church (it's a big place). There, in a Crusader chapel built on Byzantine foundations and revered from the earliest days of Christianity, is this altar commemorating the resurrection:

From this church of staggering antiquity and importance, we set out again:

From the most sacred spot (apart from each believer's own heart) in Christendom we walked to the holiest place in Judaism, and prayed there at the Western Wall:

Many of us placed written prayers in the cracks in the wall:

After a time of prayer there, we made one last stop before lunch at the southwest corner of the Temple and in the Davidson Archaeological Park that has been added just a few years ago:

It's truly amazing how many sights, sounds, smells, and experiences a single morning in Jerusalem can hold! We boarded our bus again and were soon on our way to a delicious lunch outside the Old City.

Morning in the Old City (Part One)

We started our day at Herod's Gate this morning; just inside the gate we stopped and read Psalm 122.

Then we started our walk through the streets. Our guide stopped and bought a loaf of sesame bread for us to share:

Our first official stop of the day was the site of what was in Jesus' day the Fortress Antonia, where Jesus was brought before Pilate. Nader gave us some good orientation here, and I read from Psalm 31:1-3:

We soon went down into the underground water system that dates to Roman times:

Next we viewed the Lithostrotos, which has been dated to the time of Hadrian. It depicts the likely kind of game the Roman soldiers used in gambling for Jesus' clothing. I read Mark 15:16-20 here:

After that, we entered the Via Dolorosa, under what tradition has called the Ecce Homo arch:

The Via Dolorosa winds through the streets and churches of the Old City (some of which I will feature on my Desperate Pastor blog's "church of the week" feature in the weeks following this trip)....

And ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre...which my next entry will describe.

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Afternoon in Bethlehem

After a full morning traversing the Mount of Olives, we set out for Bethlehem.

Our first stop was the Nissan Brothers' New Store, where a lot of us got a lot of shopping done. We had lunch at their restaurant, too.

Then we took the short bus ride to the Church of the Nativity, where we entered through the low door installed by the Turks, altering a Crusader arch:

While awaiting access to the Grotto, the cave where Jesus was born, we viewed the fourth century mosaics from the Constantinian church that predated the Justinian church that survives to this day:

Next stop: the Grotto, where we sang "Away in a Manger" and "Silent Night":

After a short time in the Grotto, we went next door to St. Catherine's Church:

St. Catherine's sits atop the same cave as the Grotto, but the portion where St. Jerome is said to have lived and translated the Bible into Latin:

There are several niches and altars in St. Jerome's cave:

From there it was a short ride to Bet Sahour, the Shepherd's Field, where we read from Luke 2:6-17:

And another beautiful chapel there, designed by Bartolucci, the same architect who designed Dominus Flevit Church and the Church of the Agony:

From Bet Sahour we started our journey back to the hotel where, after dropping some things in our rooms a few of us headed out for the Old City. We took a cab to Jaffa Gate, had pizza at Rami's Pizza on Hayehudim Street, and then headed to the Kotel, the Western Wall, which is a singular experience at night:

We prayed at the Wall (which we'll visit again tomorrow), and Scott and I visited the ancient synagogue by the Wall (which has been entirely and luxuriously renovated since I was here last). A short cab ride returned us to our hotel, and we settled in for the night.

Another amazing day in the City of our God.

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Morning in Jerusalem

What a beautiful day God gave us for our first morning in Jerusalem!

We started the day with a short drive to the Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives, where we read from Acts 1:6-11.

From there we set out on the traditional Palm Sunday route down the Mount of Olives:

Partway down we stopped at the Dominus Flevit Church, commemorating the spot where on Palm Sunday Jesus wept over Jerusalem:

We read from Luke 19:28-44 and then took time inside the church, which features this awesome west-facing view (a departure from the norm, as churches typically face east):

After some time there we proceeded down the hill farther to the Garden of Gethsemane, which is still home to olive trees today:

After reading Matthew 26:36-46, we headed into the Church of the Agony, or Church of All Nations, for a time of prayer and meditation:

Just a short walk along the Kidron Valley later, we boarded the bus for our next stop: Bethlehem.

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