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Day Two

May 27, 2011

I owe some catching up so here goes…..

Our first day of touring was very busy. We met the rest of our group, about thirty people, and headed for the Mt. Of Olives. You get a great view of the old city from there, and it’s easy to imagine Jesus and the disciples coming over the hill to gaze on Jerusalem. From there we rode the bus down to the Garden of Gethsamane and the Church of the Agony. Of course the garden is where Jesus was arrested but first spent time in prayer, even sweating blood, but saying to the Father not my will but yours, as the disciples slept. The church built on that spot is beautiful, and inside is a rock they claim to be the one upon which Jesus prayed that night. Well I can say the place was very spirit filled and praying near that rock, after touching it, was very moving to me.
We then traveled to the Old City. Inside the walls everything is rock streets and rock buildings. We began on Mt. Zion (see-own is how our Jewish guide pronounces it’s), we saw what might be Davids tomb, then the Upper Room, The Upper Room was disappointing and highly unlikely the real spot. Its controlled by the Muslims and didn’t feel very holy,
We walked a lot throughout the old city, passing a joyful and loud Bar Mitzvah (that we saw again at the western wall). A lot to take in. Moving from quarter to quarter we eventually made it to the church of the Holy Sepulcher. This church Is built on the supposed site of both Golgotha and the tomb. It was a madhouse of people making it difficult go hear our guide. We went up and down and around, seeing all the sites there. The Byzantine additions are beautiful, but make it hard to imagine it in Jesus times. THe line to the tomb, which is a chapel managed by the Orthodox was way too long go try and see. We did see the rock where Jesus was supposedly anointed for burial, and the site of Calvary. BUt all at breakneck speed with thousands of other pilgrims.
The Via Delarossa was disappointing, much of it in the midst of merchants pushing their souvenirs. It made it very hard to imagine Jesus, Symone, Veronica, etc.
It’s hard to describe how much very hurried and difficult walking this involved. We finally made it to the Temple mount and wailing wall. We were able to go up to the area around the Dome of the Rock before Muslims ran us off (It was prayer time). Then back to the wailing wall where jEnnifer and I were able to pray, separated of course by a fence dividing men and women.
After the wall we rode to the garden tomb, an alternate and very believable site for Golgotha and the tomb, Made sense to me, Visited the tomb excavated there and could imagine our Lord laid out for burial in there, and the empty tomb, how easy peering into it would have told the tale.

Day two was spent at the church of the Visittion of Mary to Elizabeth, a beautiful church up a very, very steep walk . Also saw church of St. John in same town. We the drove to the amazing and heartbreaking Holocaust museum. Very emotional and enlightening. Powerful stuff.

We then visited a model of Jerusalem from second temple era, very fascinating. In the same museum saw some of the Dead Sea scrolls before heading to Bethlehem.
More on Bethlehem tomorrow as I need turn in. Tomorrow we go to Qumran, and the Dead Sea.

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