I began my official blog when I went to the Holy Land in May of 2008. I thought I'd bring back a few of those early posts for those of you who may have missed them the first time around.
May 20, 2008
Today we took a walking tour of old Jerusalem. We were so happy to be off the bus and out in the fresh air and sunshine.
The tour started atop Mount Moriah. You may remember Mt. Moriah from scripture. It was there that Abraham offered Isaac for sacrifice. Now, a beautiful mosque called the Dome of the Rock stands on the mount. The actual dome is covered with 24k gold. Its gleam is unparalleled in my experience.
We left there for St. Anne's Church. St. Anne is Mary's mother, that is, Jesus' grandmother. This church is the best preserved Crusader church in all of Israel. Its walls are fortress-thick. It's as if it were built by. . .well. . .warriors. St. Anne's is a beautifully simple church with renown acoustics. Our group's own tenor, Dr. Cal Robertson, sang for us there. He began with Holy, Holy, Holy and finished with Jerusalem, Jerusalem. His highly trained, flawless voice filled the chapel. When he hit the last note, no one said anything. For several moments, sacred silence swept over those present. As I reflected on the generations of saints who had worshiped there before I had come to this place, I felt humbled by the faith represented here.
Later we walked the via de la rosa--the way of the cross--a mostly legendary route that Jesus is said to have followed on the way to his crucifixion. The way begins below a convent where Jesus' trial almost certainly took place. This site has been authenticated in many ways. However, the rest of the way is suspect, though possible of course.
Still, the via de la rosa ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which offered a wonderful experience totally unrelated to the way of the cross. There atop that ancient church (it was built in the 4th century ad) a small community of Ethiopian monks has taken residence. This community celebrates their biblical connection to Philip because of his leading the Ethiopian to Christ through the reading of scripture. While we were there, one of the monks read to us in his native language, the story of Philip. Beautiful.
Finally we ended our day at the Western Wall or as we call it, the Wailing Wall. I had brought a picture of Paxten Mitchell with me. On the back of the picture, Rob and Amy, Paxten's parents, had both written prayers. So, while I was at the wailing wall, I read the prayer for Amy and then the one for Rob. Next I prayed my own prayer about Paxten and about God's goodness and his provision. Finally I knelt before the wall, once again awed, as I have been throughout this journey, by the number of those who have prayed in this very same spot before me. To think of the prayers that have gone up here: prayers of hope, prayers of despair; prayers of longing, prayers of thanksgiving; prayers of praise, prayers of anguish. And now my voice has joined with all those other voices. I find the weight of the knowledge overwhelming. I feel so humbled at the magnitude of the faith of God's people.
Tomorrow we go to the Mount of Olives. I have a feeling I'm going to be overwhelmed there as well.
Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.
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