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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia

Today was our last day in the Holy Land.  Tomorrow I'm flying out at 5am back to Istanbul.   I strange day in some ways.  We had a late start so for the first time in almost two weeks I actually went through emails and did some work.  Then it was time to put this aside again and go out for our final day--a look at the Garden Tomb and the Holy Sepulcher...as well as the Via dolorosa (the way of the cross) and some time in the old city.

I confess I am a Holy Sepulcher junkie.  I just love this church.  IT is most likely --even the Oxford Archeological guide agrees--the place of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  Some people hate it because it has all the trappings of human need to try and make something holy---smells, bells, candle sticks that are about 20 feet tall--but I love it.  I find great peace inside this wondrous church and I find the people to be not a distraction but a reminder of why Christ came.   The key to the Sepulcher is to go beyond the place of the crucifixion and the resurrection and head deep into the recesses of the church.  IF you keep going down, and down and down, you see that the church is indeed built into the side of a huge quarry...the hill of which Jesus was crucified upon.  If you go far to the other side you see the examples of other tombs that were found in the area from the first century.

I admit, I found my way to the Holy Sepulcher 3 different times...once with the group and twice by myself. 

The garden tomb, which is what many Americans love because it looks the part is most definitely not the place.  But each time I go there I have more and more respect for the place.  Because while it does not represent the actually place, it helps one imagine what it may have looked like.  It's quiet garden setting is easier on the senses than the trappings of the Holy Sepulcher.   And as always the message that the Garden Tomb gets right each time....spot on...is that HE IS NOT HERE!  HE IS RISEN!  The point is that the tomb is empty and this is brought home beautifully in this place.  We had communion there today, one last time as a group.

I'm reminded of the words of the angels at the resurrection...'he goes ahead of you....'  how beautiful that promise still remains.  He goes ahead of you.  Christ Jesus goes ahead of you, ahead of me, leading and encouraging us to follow him.   I do love coming to the Holy Land to recharge my spiritual batteries and to remember these simple truths.   Here's the pix of the day!

Here at Gordon's Calvary or The Garden Tomb
Our guide was a very passionate Brit.  But
he played a little fast and loose with Bible
quotes and seemed to be important to him
to go out of his way to dis on the Holy
Sepulcher.....obviously I was not fan of
his presentation

What the Garden Tomb does do is help you 'feel'
what it would have been like and this is
important

Linda and Marlene in front of the tomb that
serves as a great way to understand how Jesus
was placed in a similar tomb

Here's where the Garden Tomb hits a home
run....He is not here!  Alleluia!

I climbed to the top of the old city to get
this picture of the Lutheran Church of the
Redeemer.  It is quite a nice church with a little
archeological dig beneath that you can visit
and of course you can climb the tower!

This is the place which commemorates the cross
and the death of Jesus.  IF not right here...
it would have been close.

I took this picture upstairs in the Holy
Sepulcher looking past the candles into
a side chapel below....

If you keep moving to the right and going down
three separate sets of steps from the top, you reach
where the church was obviously built into the side
of the quarry.  

As you make your way back to the lowest parts
of the Holy Sepulcher, you come across this wall with the
carved crosses of countless earlier pilgrims.  It
is humbling to say the least to consider at what cost they
made the pilgrimage.

The Way of the cross....via delorosa

A great painting that is above the door
to the 3rd or 4th station of the cross
reminding us to take up our crosses too; but
to follow him.

Marlene knelling down to reach her hand
to touch the rock of Calvary/Golgotha

Here's Linda waiting her turn to kneel before the
cross of Christ

Another great dinner....salads followed
by the main course.

The old city of Jaffa or Joppa.  Here is where Jonah tried
to run away from God, where Peter was told all food
is clean and where the HOly Spirit was working overtime. 

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