Easter Weekend in Jerusalem

Trip Start Mar 04, 2007
Trip End Jun 15, 2007

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Maundy Thursday

It was with great anticipation that I boarded the bus to Jerusalem.  For only about $1.25 I could ride to the bus lot across the street from the Jerusalem Hotel. Every seat was filled but I was the only staying for the weekend since I had a suitcase.

I arrived about 10:30 am and, of course, my room wasn't ready so I walked a block or so to the Garden Tomb. It may seem strange to start the Easter weekend where it ends, but my faith is built on the Resurrection, Christ is Alive, so it was the best place to begin my journey.

I went to the place of the skull and thought about the Passion of Jesus.  

I walked the path to the tomb and followed a group of Nigerian Christians into the empty tomb.  The sign on the door says, "He Is Not Here. He Has Risen."

The carved stone provided a place to lay Jesus in the tomb. It was dark and cold....and empty.

There were three buses of Nigerians singing "He is Lord" in one area, a bus load of Chinese Christians beginning the tour. Christians from all nations coming together to celebrate the joy, the wonder, the miracle of Jesus' resurrection! This must be the closest to heaven we can get on earth!
Good Friday

Went to the Good Friday service this morning at the Garden Tomb.  Tears sprang to my eyes often as I heard the Good Friday readings and contemplated the Passion of Christ - but always seeing the empty tomb in front of me.
In the afternoon I went to the Via Delarosa and the Stations of the Cross. 

Because of all the faithful people there today, the Spirit was strong.  When I have been here before it has seemed so distant from anything spiritual-commercial stores all along the way, shopkeepers trying to get you into their shops, the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  But today was different, more reverent. The shops were open but few people were shopping; the shopkeepers were standing in their doorways but not trying to entice you in. 

I was there later in day after the big processions but there were still people carrying a cross and walking the Stations of the Cross.
Holy Saturday

I went to the Old City with Maysa and her cousin Samera.  First, they wanted to take me to the Temple Mount and show me around the holy place of their faith.  We put our scarves over our head and covered our hair but the guard wouldn't let us in!  He said I wasn't a Muslim and the girls weren't dresses appropriately even though we were all fully covered.  They were so disappointed since it had been 3 years since Maysa had been there.
Then off to the Holy Sepulture Church for the ceremony of the Holy Fire. We just missed getting in and stood at the front of a barricade for at least a half an hour. I can understand how a person could get crushed in the front of a crowd as the crowd surged forward! The main ceremony was over as people came by with wax splashed over their heads and clothing.
We finally were admitted and there was another long line into the Church.  They were interested because the Holy Fire brought up by the Orthodox Priest lights the candles and lights brought from the outlying villages and it is then taken back to the towns and even as far away as Athens!  

(In Ramallah when it was received on Saturday, the main street was blocked off and the scouts and their bands marched behind the Holy Fire.)


At that point it was obvious that we needed to do something different so we went to Christian Quarter Road (my favorite place to shop in the Old City) and we shopped for a few items.  We bought scarves and I bought an embroidered jacket in my favorite color, although red is traditional.  We ended up at the garden café at the hotel drinking lemonade with mint, yum!
Easter Sunday!

At the Easter Sunrise Service at the Garden Tomb there were over 1000 people but it was orderly and reverent.  Being in the spot where Jesus could have risen was beyond words! We sang praise and worship songs, some hymns, heard scripture and a message-all where I could see the empty tomb! Christ is Risen! Alleluia!
In the afternoon I went back to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  There was a crowd but it was not packed nor was there a waiting line -I walked right in!

I saw the stone he was laid on after he was taken off the cross, where his blood was caught and then the tomb there. 
The line to go in the tomb was very long and would require about a 2 hour wait so I passed, especially since I was at the Garden Tomb in the morning which was a distance from the crucifixion site, not right next to it like here. Took some photos and then went back to the stone on which he way laid when he was taken off the cross. 

Many women were touching it, anointing it with oil and keeping the cloths they used, laying crosses on it to take home, kissing it, etc. I stood back as an observer and then felt led to touch it myself.  I knelt and placed the palm of my hand on it.  The Spirit was so strong there and I felt a warm current flow from my palm, up my arm and into my body.  I can't explain it but the Power of the Lord was with me.

It was a life changing weekend and I continue to be amazed - that I was able to be in Jerusalem and that I was changed through the Spirit!

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quakertrish on

Re: Wow! What an amazing weekend
thanks, Mike! the experience is beyond words, even for a writer and photorapher!

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