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Friday, January 13, 2012

From Jerusalem to Jericho

cave marking the birth place of Mary

Pools of Bethesda where Jessa healed
It was the perfect day to remember ones baptism as the rain came down pretty constantly all morning and much of the afternoon.  And yet, like any good pilgrim a little rain was just the chance to remember our baptism, not discourage the journey.  The morning was dedicated to the Via Dolorosa--the way of the cross.  Pilgrims for years have traced Jesus steps as he went from Pilate to Golgotha and was crucified.    We actually began by visiting the church of St. Anne which was built by the crusaders to honor the birth of Mary, mother of our Lord.  Then we went to the pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralytic man.

Stone from Jesus time at the Soldiers
Headquarter.  Notice the graffiti that marks a game they played

Chapel of the Condemnation

The Way of the Cross, through the city.

Kelly at the 7th station of the cross leaning on a pillar that many
think to be part of the old cities gate of Judgment.  Leading
Jesus outside the city walls.
We start at what was the site of Pilate's Antonio fortress.  Built right next to the temple it most have been an impressive site.  Today you can see the original floor, where you even have some graffiti from Roman Soldiers and the walk of the cross begins.  (The actual location is now a school, so you begin in a chapel built a little ways away which is the chapel of the flagellation where Jesus was beaten and then to the Chapel of the Condemnation where Pilate condemned him to die.

You then follow various stations of the cross, some are legendary, some mark points that we hear about in the Gospels (seeing the women along the way).  The walk itself winds its way through the small alleys of the Old City past vendors and merchants of all kinds.  The stations of the cross are either little niches in the alley or sometimes small chapels that you can enter and have a time of prayer.  All along you are heading for the church of the Holy Sepulchre which holds both the place of Crucifixion and burial within its walls.

The 11th station where Jesus is nailed
to the cross (Inside the Church of the
Holy Sepulcher

The place of Crucifixion.  Kelly is reaching her hand through an opening that allows
you to touch the rock of Golgotha, the place where the cross was placed and
where Jesus died.  It is the 12th station.

The dome above the chapel that
marks the tomb of Jesus.

Kelly about to enter the chapel erected over the tomb of  Jesus.

Inside the 'tomb' of Jesus

I took this quickly while in the tomb of Jesus, this is the roof.

Entrance to the chapel of the Sepulcher, where one finds the tomb of
Let's stop to ask the question:  Is this really the place that Jesus was crucified and buried?  According to the Oxford Archaeological guide "Quite probably yes."  Helen, the mother of Constantine came to the Holy Land in the 300's AD to find sites that were connected to our Lord's life.  One of the sites she identified was what is currently the Churh of the Holy Sepulcher.  One of the emperors had build a temple on the spot to the goddess Aphrodite in order to squash the Christian use of the site.  He did the same in other places as well--thinking that he was destroying the memory of Christ.  In hindsight, he was a great blessing, because his temples where a great clue as to where the original Christian sites were and it also preserved some of the earliest artifacts.   When Helen came to Jerusalem she was told that the place of the Crucifixion and burial was located at the site of the Aphrodite Temple, so she had it destroyed and indeed found beneath it remnants of the early Christians who had venerated the site as the death and burial place of Jesus.

Many folks don't like the Sepulcher because it has become a big noisy place filled with pushing pilgrims and squabbling religious orders--but it is an amazing place.  I believe that you do indeed knell and touch the rock of Golgotha when there and also that you stand in the place where the women found an empty tomb--Alleluia!  

The place commemorating our
Lord's body being prepared
for burial

Indide the LUtheran Church of the cross.  The ELCA staffs this chuch.
We climed up the bell tower for a great view.  Wiped me out!
Kelly and I were very lucky, we both got to reach our hand down and touch the rock of Golgotha and then when it came time to visit the tomb of Christ, her and I were there together, able to give praise to the risen Lord, but also stand in awe and wonder of all the folks who had raised slavery and death for thousands of years just to stand where we were standing--amazing experience.

Afterwards we went to the Lutheran Church of the cross, which is located right next to the Holy Sepulcher and climbed the tower--winded--for a wonderful view of Jerusalem.

Jericho--Temptation restarunt

Jericho the oldest city on Earth--10,000 BC.  Also the lowest at 1300 feet
below sea level,

The monastery marking the place of Temptation
of Jesus by Satan.   A monastery marks the spot.

The spot marking the telling of Zaeccheaus being too small so climbing the tree to see Jesus.

Here in old Jericho some towers have dated back over 10,000 BC.
Next we traveled the Jericho road--much safer these days, but indeed passed by the monument commemorating Jesus story of the Good Samaritan.  We then descended to the lowest and oldest city in the world--JERICHO!   We looked at some of the ruins, saw the place attributed to be where Jesus was tempted by the devil and a Sycamore tree that marks the beloved story of Zachaeus--and yes we did sing the song...."Zacheaus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he, he climbed up in the sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see."

Then it was off to our beautiful 4star imperial hotel. 

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