Today we started our day at the Western Wall, one of the most Holy Places in the city for all Jews. The Western Wall is the portion the wall believed to have been closest to the original Temple. The Wall was built by Herod the Great around 19-20 BC to protect the original Temple, and some even believe that the Ark of the Covenant is still buried underneath rubble behind the Western Wall, underneath what is now called "The Temple Mount."
We were given the opportunity to pray, in our respective men's and women's sides, take some pictures and spend some time praying for others before making our way up to the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount is now covered by two Islamic mosques that were built after the crusaders period, but before the Ottoman Empire. It is believed to be the site where Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac, and the site where the first and second Temple(s) were built. We had enough time to take photos and listen to our guide, but then had to move on because it was being prepared for the time of prayer.
Next we made our way to the Pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed a man in the sabbath and where many people waited for the "angels to stir up the waters" that would provide healing. We prayed prayers of healing for one of our church members that has been injured and learned that this place had been one of healing for many people! We also visited the Church of St. Anne, the mother of Mary, who taught her daughter the scriptures and love of God, who taught her Son the scriptures and love of God. We also sang "Amazing Grace," in this beautiful place that has some of the most amazing acoustics of any of the churches we have visited.
Next we started on the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrow, or the Way of the Cross. It takes us to 14 different stations of the cross that remind us of Jesus' final journey to the cross. The first 11 are along a "route" and the last three are inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The "route" took us to a few chapels that mark some of the stations of the cross, and through some of the streets of Old Jerusalem. Through tight walkways/streets filled with people, shops, bikes, and places of worship we made our way up to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
A 12th century building sitting on 4th century remains, the CotHS is one of the oldest churches in the world and the only that has at least five different churches within one church - we could probably learn a thing or two from all their experience together! They host worshipm simultaneously and separately. Sometimes Christmas and Easter end up on different days from one another and so somehow it does all work out. Orthodox, Armenian, Roman Catholic, Coptic and Syrian churches all have space within the church, but a set of Muslim families have held the keys to the church for hundreds of years to keep no one church in control of the space. After spending some time in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and touching the stone where they believe Jesus was crucified, the spot where Mary stood watching her son, and the anointing stone where they anointed Jesus body we headed back to the bus.
All of this happened before lunch!
After lunch we had a chance to see some beautiful views of the city - our tour guide knows everything! - and then headed to The Upper Room. Like much of the city they have no idea, or know outright that it is NOT the actual place where Jesus met with his disciples before his crucifixion, but it is in the probable place and in a similar way. Jerusalem has about 13 layers of cities, so it's hard to be sure anything is THE thing we are looking for.
We finished the day by visiting the tomb of King David. Again, it may not be the exact spot of his burial, but there is a synagogue there which honors King David and his reign.
Wow! It was a full day! Again, check out our Facebook page - Overland Park Cheistian Church - for photos since it is difficult for them to load here!