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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jerusalem, Jerusalem....

Your work in the Holy Land!
 As we drove from our hotel in east Jerusalem up to the Mount of Olives I was delightfully surprised that our first stop was the Augusta Victoria Hospital complex run by the Lutheran World Federation.  It is also home of the Church of the Ascension which is one possible site of the Ascension of our Lord (admittedly not probable) but is also built on the highest point in Jerusalem, some 850 meters above sea level.   This is a place that should make Lutherans proud.   They provide needed medical services and treatments to many Palestinians who would otherwise not have care.  In fact our guide told us that you should feel very good about the work of Augusta Victoria Hospital.   I quote "Many people send money to places in the Holy Land and it never does any good.  Every penny that comes to Augusta Victoria goes right to the people."    Nice way to start the trip.  And don't worry Kelly has some brochures and is already thinking of how we can better support this amazing ministry.

Pater Noster Church Mt. of Olives

Kelly looking above Old City on Mt of Olives

Looking out famous window of Dominus Flevit "Our Lord Wept."
 From the Mount of Olives we also went to another church--more probable--that marks site of the Ascension, then we went to the church of the Pater Noster, known for it's many versions of the Lord's Prayer that are displayed and then to the overlook into Jerusalem.   Never mind that there was a camel there for the tourists to ride, smack dab in front of you is the Holy City.  The Dome of the Rock with its beautiful blue color and gold dome, the walls that surround the old city, the tombs of the faithful of three different faiths stretching before is one of those iconic and breathtaking scenes.   We then walked down the Mount of Olives following the route that Jesus would have taken on Palm Sunday.   Along the way we stopped at the famous church of Dominus Flevit (Our Lord Wept) where you have a beautiful view over Jerusalem and built to commemorate Jesus heartfelt concern for the city.  Next we walk to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed to be 'delivered' from his death if it be the Father's will.  Then into the Church of All Nations which has the traditional spot of where Jesus threw himself down in the Garden to pray while the disciples slept. 

The place where Jesus prayed

Kelly saying a prayer at Gethsemane

Pastor and Kelly outside the Church of All Nations
OK....So can you sense the awe and the sense of everything being surreal?  We have been officially touring for less than 4 hours and we have already seen and experienced so much.  The place where our Lord rode down on the colt for Palm Sunday, the place of his anguishing prayer in the Garden, the Mount of Olives and the good work at Augusta Victoria.   What can one do next, but go have lunch.  Where....Falafels of course.   A nice little restaurant owned by a Palestinian Christian.  Good food.

Lunch Jerusalem style
The Upper Room

Mosaic ceiling where Peter Denied Christ

Reading from Scripture in Caiaphas' house where Jesus was taken after being arrested

Actual steps that Jesus "MAY" have walked down to get to the Garden

Rolling stone from a tomb

What it's all about!
Back to touring, we next went to the Upper Room, where Jesus was supposed to have instituted the sacrament, saw the tomb of David (Which isn't, but some like to think it is), and then went to church built over the house of Caiaphas the high priest.  The location of where Jesus was taken after he was arrested and where Peter denied knowing him three times.   Finally we went to the so called "Garden Tomb" where you get a really good idea of what the real empty tomb of Jesus must have looked like; however the real spot is probably closer to the church of the Holy Sepulcher which we will visit later.  What  first day!!  

OK, some nice things about our guide.  Great Christian Palestinian man who is very glad to tell you if he thinks a site is authentic, pretty close, or note even in the ball park.   He likes to use three criteria for judging whether a site is probably authentic.  Scripture---what do we know from scripture about the site.  Tradition--how long has it been associated with an event and what does history have to tell us.  Archaeology--what can science tell us about the site, over against what we know about the period.   If all three line up, then he assumes that you have to say:  Why not?   If they don't line up, then you probably need to say it is a good place to remember the event, but not the actual location.  I like his system and he is generally right on. 

People:  Very warm and welcoming.  Lots of diversity.   Kelly and I walked out in a very urban area of the Arab part of the city and felt very comfortable.  Everyone kind.  I haven't seen one homeless person or mentally distraught person--and Jerusalem is a big city.   The children are beautiful and always laughing and smiling.  Many of the women have traditional dress...and many don't.   You get the impression that if it weren't for the radical extremists on each side, that all these people would easily live together.   You also come to know a lot of Christian Palestinians who are rarely mentioned in the US and who have a very hard time finding jobs and housing etc... in Israel.  They are discriminated against in many ways.  

That is all for tonight.  Tomorrow:  The Temple Mount, Western Wailing wall, Bethlehem, and more....An amazing place!  

1 comment:

  1. glad you arrived safely and painlessly. amazing to see photos of the Holy Land with you guys in the picture - it's real! so... why are the signs in English??? closest thing to a universal language?