Israel: Day 7
Our overnight prayers were not enough to keep the rain clouds away, but a little precipitation could not deter us from a full, full day.
We began with the traditional pilgrim walk down the Via Dolorosa. Starting at the site of the Antonio Fortress, where Pontius Pilate held court, we paused in the Chapel of Condemnation and reflected on the journey of Jesus to the cross, the Lamb of God slain forth sins of the world. We commenced our walk through the Old City with brief stops along the Stations of the Cross. We ended on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and then descended into the church where we took in the sites where Jesus was both crucified and buried. The church seemed full of people from every nation, causing us to rejoice that the gospel has truly gone to the four corners of the world.
From the Holy Sepulcher we paused for an early lunch at a small cafe. After this brief respite, and with bodies fortified, we made our way back to the Temple Mount and waited for the gates to open so we could walk the grand courtyard where the Temple once stood. It is now the site of the Dome of the Rock, the most recognized of all Muslim mosques. While we waited entry we had a front row view of the procession of four or five Bar Mitzvah parades complete with drums, shofars, tambourines, singing and dancing. A few of our ladies even got recruited for a circle dance celebrating one young man's sacred passage.
After our tour of the Temple Mount, from which we viewed with awe the Mount of Olives, we returned to the bus for a short ride to Mt. Zion.
At Mt. Zion we climbed the steps to the Upper Room and reflected upon the sacred meal of Jesus that celebrated the Passover and prepared the disciples one last time for the mission ahead of them.
From the Upper Room we walked a short distance to the House of Caiaphas, the High Priest in Jesus' day. We viewed there a model of sixth century Jerusalem. Afterward we toured the beautiful church that covers the site of the first century house and the dungeon below where Jesus spent his last night before dying on the cross. We heard a devotion encouraging us to remember that the same grace that was sufficient for Peter, who denied Jesus three times in the high Priest's courtyard, is sufficient for us. We sang Amazing Grace in response to this good news.
Before we knew it the sun was setting and we were ready for our warm hotel rooms and dinner and one last night in the holiest of all cities.
Tomorrow we commune at the Garden Tomb and reflect upon the resurrection as we prepare for our final dinner together and a late, late departure from Ben Gurion Airport to home.