Tuesday February 17 - Jerusalem

Tuesday February 17 - Jerusalem
Happy birthday Sophia! Happy "Pancake Day"/Shrove Tuesday everyone! Hope you all had pancakes today.
An early start, prayers and devotion on the road, led by Janet and Diana. We picked up Wisam after crossing the checkpoint and stopped at Bethany.

There is a steep, precarious climb down and a low entrance to Lazarus' tomb, but most of us made it. (Everyone who went in, came back out.) Then we visited the Sanctuary of the Resurrection of Lazarus, a gem of a church with no windows (like a tomb) and a glorious skylight, representing resurrection.
 Outside are some 5th century mosaics.
Wisam brought us the olive wood crosses we had ordered, and we were delighted with them.

 Our next stop was the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, thought to be where Peter denied Jesus three times after his arrest. It is  built over the ruins of the traditional site of the house of Caiaphas, where Christ was held overnight after his arrest. It's also known as the Dungeon of Christ.

We were all shocked to see the small hole through which Jesus would have been lowered by rope into the dungeon. There is now a stairway down into it. In the dungeon,

David S. read Psalm 88 and we sang "He had to walk that lonesome valley". Gov. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Alabama, was at the site with several busloads of people, and we met him in the dungeon. The road into and out of this site is a real test for the bus drivers. Mamoud made it look easy. Part way down the hillside is a Christian graveyard where Oskar Schindler is buried.

 The Garden Tomb is a quiet, peaceful place, an alternate possibility for the location of Jesus' tomb. The possible place of crucifixion is now under a bus depot, a busy public place, just as the actual spot would have been. We had a communion and anointing service in the garden. It is a very holy place and we carried that feeling away with us.
Lunch was in a very interesting vaulted room at the Mar Elyas Monastery. Unfortunately, the church was closed today so we couldn't see it.

We were dropped off the bus at the Lion's Gate (I think -- it might have been Herod's Gate) and went to an interpretation centre on the site of the Antonia Fortress. We climbed down to see the old paving stones and cistern, then walked through the  souk of the Muslim Quarter. What an array of goods and odours! Spices, candies, meat, toys, clothing, precious jewellery, souvenirs, hot food, everything from licorice allsorts to bright  pink cauliflower, to hanging animal carcasses to spiderman-themed bras and leather purses. Lots of noise, foot traffic and the occasional cart.

Eventually, we arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and a whole different kind of crowd. There were hundreds or even thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, climbing the precarious steps up and down to the site of Golgotha, kneeling and touching the stone where Jesus' body was prepared for burial, lining up for an hour or more to touch the place where the tomb used to be. Priests of several orders and nationalities moving about, some busy with mundane tasks, others processing with incense and chanting. We found quiet places too, in the Armenian church that houses the cave where Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine found the true cross, and in a side chapel with a sign reading "For prayer, silence please". We looked into the cave that is thought to be the burial place of Adam. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre really is a rather overwhelming place with so much under one roof.
Leaving there, we again experienced the souk as we walked back to the Damascus Gate to get on the bus. There were even more people and it was hard to stick together, but we all made it. Everyone was ready for a quiet evening and early to bed.

Link to All Photos for February 17 

Link to February 18 Posting



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