A Sunday to Remember

Trip Start Jan 08, 2008
Trip End Mar 18, 2008

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Flag of Israel  ,
Sunday, February 3, 2008

Dear friends and family,
Our Sunday worship at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer was filled with photographers trying to capture the service so that it could be remembered and serve as inspiration. I, too, ended up taking a couple of photos to serve that same purpose. The service was different today, for it not only was a joint worship with the Arabic speaking congregation, but there were special visitors - a group of ELCA bishops from the United States. The Lutheran Bishop of Israel/Jordan preached in Arabic and English. It is difficult to describe what it feels like to join in worship with two languages being spoken - sometimes in unison and sometimes simultaneously. There were several times that we felt "filled" - knowing that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ!
Following the service, Michael and I set out on an afternoon adventure. Our mission was to go south of the Old City to Mt. Zion. We entered King David's tomb - women and men were kept separate. Michael was alone in the tomb, however, I shared this tiny space with many - and these women were all noticeably "moved" in this site. We then climbed the steps to the Upper Room. The site is authentic for the Last Supper, but the structure itself is not. That fact does not take away from the feeling of being in holy place. The Church of the Dormision on Mt. Zion is a beautiful structure and filled with mosaics. There is a crypt area below that commemorates Mary, the mother of Jesus -with some believing that she is buried here.
We left Mt. Zion via the "back door" that led us on a small path down the hill to the valley below. Yesterday, we had been up on the other side of this valley from a viewpoint that had a spectacular view of the Hinnom Valley that runs along the south of Mt. Zion. We followed the path that we had seen from that view. It was awe inspiring as we realized that we were following the Hinnom Valley. Of course, as has been the case on so many of our walks, we were the only ones on this path. We were able to see another couple and a group of boys playing on the opposite side of the valley, but the quiet was so noticable. It is difficult to really get lost here, because as long as you can get to some elevation you can spot the familiar landmarks. However, today we felt lost and confused as we tried to follow a helpful young man's directions to the Pool of Siloam - "stay to the right as you go down many steps". We kept following the steps through narrow areas filled with garbage, and sometimes feeling that we were almost following steps into people's homes. At one point a couple of little girls were yelling at us - I think they thought we were coming into their house when we were just searching for more steps. We finally reached a street, deciding that we had missed the Pool when a man yelled from below to come and see the place where Jesus healed. (Read John 9:1-7). Here indeed was the Pool of Siloam - much smaller now than it was during the time it was used for public bathing. We had found it!
The day was sunny and warm, and our last "leg" of our journey was all uphill. We did stop for water and a rest at a park called the City of David. There is no grass or play equipment in this park. It is multi-leveled - with viewing areas, a snack bar, and stairs that lead underground to look at ruins and to enter Hezekiah's Tunnel. (We'll save that trip for another day since we were still in our "Sunday Go To Meeting" clothes.) We walked back through the Dung Gate of the Old City and then to our apartment - with feelings of inspiration, awe, and exhaustion.
We thought of all of you on this Sunday with hopes that you were beside brothers and sisters in Christ. And tonight, as you may be watching the Super Bowl, think of Michael who is greatly saddened that it was announced on T.V. that the game would not be shown in the Middle East!!
As for the game, "What Is That?!", there was no clear winner for Picture#1. It was not fowl - this was in front of a meat market and was either a little lamb (poor thing) or a goat. Your answers were so creative - so you may find a prize in your hands for that! And yes, we would have "run into it" if we hadn't been paying attention! Picture #2 brought very close right answers with Mark Woods having the right word for it - an ossuary - used for the burial of bones. Watch for two more pictures this next week!
We do send our love and miss being with you.
In Christ,
Jolene and Michael
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