Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday, 13 January 2017: Jerusalem

This morning we will travel back in time as we visit the archeological excavations of the biblical city of King David and explore the ancient city of Jerusalem. If time permits, we will visit the “Machane Yehuda” marketplace to experience the atmosphere of preparation for Shabbat. After dinner we will take a late night stroll to the Western Wall, where you’ll have a chance to write your personal prayers to God and put them in the Western Wall. (B, D) 

Whoa.  First of all, we made it to Jerusalem last night.  DIdn't see much in the dark, but were able to explore the grounds today.  What a mixture of pristine building complexes (the settlements) and rather trashed neighborhoods.  We began in the City of David, in the old ruins of what was the temple  (including the perch where David would have looked over and seen Bathsheba...and we all know what happened after THAT!). THEN, we went DOWN, DOWN, DOWN into the Pool of Siloam, the place where Jesus healed a blind man.  

Walking through that tunnel was incredible - wet and dark.  There were a million sermon illustration that came to mind - walking by faith, and not by sight, baptismal sloshing, was incredible.  And I'm SUPER happy the water wasn't TOO high nor TOO cold, or we would have all had to change clothes.

I was able to read John 9 for our group when we all reunited (some didn't go on the water tunnel tour), and I had to smile and the sad irony of a half-blind girl reading about the miraculous restoration of sight.  I guess it's all perspective, right?

Off to Bethlehem, as our guide Peter said that Jerusalem was usually chaos on Friday mornings.  An authentic olive wood shop closed down for us, and gave us a Serminary student discount.  Some crazy clerk lady followed Susan and I around the store, promising us deals that had already been made.  Tough to shake her, and we eventually just had to let her do her thing.  We weren't duped into buying anything, and it certainly made for quite the experience!

Delicious meal of skewer a (we're going to turn into one after this trip), and then off to the Upper Room where Jesus washed the feet of his apostles, where the last supper was served, and previously, where the spirit of Pentecost was celebrated.  It wasn't THE room that was around when Jesus was around, but it was the LOCATION of the room.  I'm learning more and more that I really don't need an "x" marks the spot - it's all about remembering the story and capturing the spirit of the place.

Off to the Garden Tomb, one of the reported burial places of Christ.  Learned a lot about their interpretation of the details surround Golgatha, and what a tomb in Christ's time would have look like. Some specifics about the burial cloths and spices, as well as the weight of the stone - again, all more information to put you IN to the story of Christ.

And then....the Wailing Wall.  Susan and I had taken time to write down our individual prayers at lunch.  I included the names of ALL my donors who made this trip possible, as well as all of my family members, and then some very specific prayers.  Susan and I snagged for two, white plastic chairs on the female side of the wall, and did centering prayer for 12 minutes before going to the Wall, wrapped in her prayer shawl, finishing our prayers together.  We could have stayed here another 2-3 hours, watching the rituals, hearing the chants, just observing all that the Jewish community was doing to usher in their Sabbath.  What an experience, in this land we call Holy.  

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