Trip Start Aug 31, 2010
Trip End Sep 12, 2010

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Flag of Israel  ,
Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A tour of the Holy Land is no place for the faint of heart or spirit.  We left at 8 AM and got back to the hotel around 6 PM, but were only on the bus for about 30 minutes today.  The rest of the time we were walking in the Old City. We started the morning at the Mount of Olives, where we took a picture with the Dome of the Rock as our backdrop. There is a photographer who takes the picture, then takes orders and delivers them to the bus later in the day. 

After a briefing on the Mount of Olives (and after we bought a zillion bags, hats, post cards, book marks, shawls and scarves), we started down the Palm Sunday road, stopping at a church called Dominus Flevit, which means the Lord weeps.  It is here that tradition says Jesus wept over Jerusalem as described in Luke 19:37-44.  The road is steep, but eventually you come out at the Garden of Gethsemane, which is the site where Jesus agonized before He was arrested as described in Matthew 26:36-46.

There is a church on the site of Gethsemane, as there is on most holy sites, and there was a Catholic Mass being held there and at Dominus Flevit, so we could not freely roam either church. Yet both sites are impressive and the ancient olive trees in the Garden would probably be descendants of those trees present the night Jesus agonized.

Then we got on the bus for a few minutes and went up to St. Stephen's Gate and the Muslim Quarter.  There we began our walk on the Via Dolorosa, or the way that Jesus went as He carried His cross to His crucifixion.  The Via is a narrow path full of shops where the Muslim merchants aggressively try to sell you their wares. 

We walked through the site of the Antonio Fortress, where the Roman garrison would have been stationed to maintain order at the Temple and in Jerusalem.  At the end of the Via, which has the first nine sites of the Catholic Stations of the Cross, we ended up at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Catholics say that it was on this site that Jesus was crucified and buried. 

The church itself is somewhat weird, with a lot of Catholic images and such accumulating over the years to give the place a sense of overload. Most of the team did not spend much time in that church.  From there we went to lunch in the Jewish Quarter and then on the Mount Zion, where you can find a room similar to the Upper Room where Jesus celebrated His last Passover meal with His disciples.

Then we walked back down the hill to get on our bus for our appointment at the Garden Tomb, the only site maintained by evangelical Christians in Jerusalem.  There you tour the gardens, and see a dug out tomb similar to the one in which Jesus would have been entombed for three days.  After the tour, we convene to have communion on the site, and it is always a moving and tearful experience for many.  No one knows for sure where Jesus was executed and buried, but we don't try to connect with a site, but with the account and the lesson behind the account.

We ended the day with a visit to a shop that specializes in coins of antiquity and olive wood carvings.  Some bought beautiful hand carved mangers and carvings depicting famous Bible scenes or characters.  Then we came back to the hotel for dinner.  Tomorrow is our last day together and five will head home, while the other nineteen  go on to Egypt for two nights. Before we go, we will visit the Dead Sea Scrolls museum and take a drive down to Masada, located by the Dead Sea where we went floating last Sunday.  So stay tuned, we have more reports to bring you from the Holy Land before we depart.
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One day Israel, one day we shall have a one on one encounter...

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