Feb 22, 2012

Day 8 in Israel

The final day of touring...

We will have a free day tomorrow before catching the 11pm flight from Tel Aviv to Seattle via New York. Most of the folks from LCOP will be doing their final shopping and touring Jerusalem for their last day. I will be spending the day in the hotel preparing for the sermon this weekend back home.

This day started by visiting the Israel Museum and the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition. There is 50-1 model scale of what Jerusalem looked like during the days of Jesus.
A model of what Jerusalem looked like during the days of Jesus
The Temple Mount
Herod's Palace in the background with the three towers

The main steps leading into the Temple Mount and the porticos
After spending the morning in the museum, we then went to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. A local cantor led us in a time of reflection. Even though none of knew Hebrew, the music was unmistakable...laments of a people who had suffered greatly. It was quite moving.
Clark spending some time in reflection at the Holocaust Museum
The statue below depicts a famous Jewish poet in Poland who used his wealth and notoriety to shelter the Jewish orphans whose parents had been murdered by the Nazis. At first the Nazis left him alone, but there came a time when they came for the children. The famous poet was given a chance to be spared by the Nazis because of his notoriety, but the poet chose to go to the gas chambers with his orphaned children. He too was gassed to death in one of the concentration camps. This is a statue to remember his sacrifice for the children.
Going through the Holocaust museum is not easy. And you might be wondering why this was scheduled as part of a pilgrimage to Israel for our church members, and particularly on Ash Wednesday.

I think it's fitting that we spent time in the Holocaust Museum on Ash Wednesday.

We love happy endings.

We love Easter.

But we forget that Easter is only possible because Jesus endured the atrocities of Good Friday, and because he paid the debt of the sins of the world in hell.

There is no Easter without Good Friday and the cross.

Just as there is no Christianity without the cross, there is no way to understand the ethos of modern day Israel without the holocaust. As ugly and tragic and horrific the Holocaust was, it is why Israel is the way she is today.

After the Holocaust Museum, we went back into the Old City into the Jewish quarters. There we the recently discovered ruins of the main card, the main street of ancient Jerusalem, and the ruins of the wall that Hezekiah built when he was king.

As we were walking out of the Jewish quarters into the Armenian quarter, saw a sign that I just had to take a picture of.
St James St marks the start of the Armenian quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem
The final place we visited today was the Garden Tomb where many believe Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected.

Place where some believe is the Place of the Skull, or Golgotha. Do you see the face of a skull in the rocks?
What is intriguing about this particular spot is that the most likely place where Jesus was crucified was not on top of the hill of Golgotha. That's the way many pictures and movies depict the crucifixion of Jesus. The way Romans did crucifixions was to choose a busy boulevard where many people would be passing by. And in many of the cities where the crucifixions took place, even while the people were dying, people would just be about their regular business without even giving a second thought to the crucifixions. "Oh, another guy the Romans put to death."

The place where the crucifixion of Jesus most likely took place is now a parking lot for a busy Arab bus station right next to a mosque. There are hundreds of people going through here every hour without the slightest idea of what God did for all of human kind right at the spot where they are getting on and off the buses to go about their busy days.

But that's the gospel story.

God steps right into our daily lives. It's in this very life you and I live that God wants to enter our world.

That's incredible!

That's good news.
An Arab bus stop where Jesus was likely crucified
We finished our pilgrimage to Israel at a quiet spot in the garden next to the tomb. We prayed, read scripture, shared the holy sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and sang the only hymn that seemed appropriate "How Great Thou Art!"
The Garden Tomb
One more day and we will start our journey back home. Already, my mind is switching gears as I start thinking about Edie Brewer's memorial service on Saturday, and as I start the preparations for the sermon for this Sunday.

Life goes on.

But God is there.

And for our LCOP folks, they will never be able to read the Bible stories in the same way ever again.

There will be a place, a smell, a landscape, an experience that will go with the stories of how God chose to break into our story so that he can make his-story.

That's what pilgrimages are for.

Thanks be to God!


teacher_deb said...

What a privelige and blessing to have shared such a wonderful experience! God bless you all as you head home...

James Kim said...

Yes indeed...such a privilege. It was an awesome experience for us. We are looking forward to getting home and sharing the experience with the folks back home. See you soon.

Unknown said...

PJ, how awesome it is that you're visiting all these ancient places where history took place- the good, the bad and the ugly. I visited many of these same sites on my Israel tour... it was life changing. Traveling mercies! -grace