Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Israel Houseparty part 4

View from the Mount of Olives
The following day was one of the busiest of our time in Israel.  We left quite early in the morning to travel around the edge of Jerusalem and up to the top of the Mount of Olives.  From here there is a dramatic view of the city wall across the valley with a clear view of the Dome of the Rock.  It is from this angle that Jesus will have approached the city and seen the imposing temple.

Walking down Palm Sunday Road
After using the opportunity to take lots of photos in the glorious weather, we began to walk together down Palm Sunday road, calling in at Dominus Flevit 'The Lord Wept', where the church is fairly unadorned with a view over the city through a big picture window.

The church at Gethsemane
At the bottom of hill we reached Gethsemane, and the group had some time to wander around the church and garden and take in the scene.  The olive trees in the garden were incredibly old, which created a wonderful sense of connection to Jesus' own presence in the garden all those centuries ago.

We then moved into the Old City through the Lions Gate, and made our way along the famous 'Via Dolorosa', a narrow street through the city thought to be the route along which Jesus carried his cross.  Marked along the street are the stations of the cross, but it is not easy to be still as it is very crowded with other tour groups and street vendors.  We took this opportunity to find a cafe selling falafel for lunch, before proceeding along the path to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church is a fascinating place, but completely full of people, many of them queuing to reach the very heart of the church.  We managed to find a quiet side chapel, and spent a couple of minutes in there.  It would have been wonderful to spend more time in many of these places, but there was so much to see!

Entering the garden tomb
From the Church of the Holy Sepulchre we caught up again with the bus and travelled to the Garden Tomb.  This is a beautiful garden from which a hillside can be seen which looks a bit like a skull.  There are so many sites across the country which are 'traditional' - it is not known definitely that they are the original sites, but it is possible!  Also within the garden is an example of a first century tomb.  It is highly unlikely this was the exact tomb, but it is impossible to know.  There is a wonderful atmosphere in the garden, and there were many groups there taking the opportunity for some quiet worship time together.  We sang 'This is the place' from Rock together, and Geoff led us in communion.

After dinner that evening Yoel and Laura from Shoresh took a group out onto the city rooftops for a time of testimony and sharing.  A very busy day!
Olives at Gethsemane
On the Via Dolorosa

Worship at the Garden Tomb
The place of the skull?
Eating in falafel in style

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