Thursday, April 20, 2017

Jerusalem Visit 
Jan Weber

Matthew 28: 1-10 NRSV

While in Jerusalem, we visited two sites where the death and resurrection of Jesus could have occurred, and found out that there are at least four others with evidence to support that they could be the place. The most widely known traditional site is at the Church of the Holy Sepulchure which is currently within the walls of Jerusalem, but wasn't in the first century. It was difficult to imagine this as a site because the church is built over top of anything that was previously there.

We climbed a staircase and could have stood in line to reach under an altar behind a curtain and feel the rock which is considered to be the top of Golgotha. Downstairs it was an hour wait to go inside a small shrine, the size of a walk-in closet, which is directly underneath the dome of the large cathedral, to see a place where the tomb is traditionally supposed to be. It was very beautiful and ornate, but was crowded and hard for me to relate to.

Another site we visited was just outside the walls of the city. They showed us a rocky hill that appears to have the face of the skull, although the pictures they have of the same hillside 100 years ago, before a bus station was put in at the bottom and a Muslim cemetery built on the top, made the skull easier to see.

We toured a beautiful garden site around the base of the hill, that is meticulously cared for, including small areas to conduct worship and communion, one of which we used for that purpose. Then we were taken to an area in the garden where a tomb dating back to the time of Christ's death and resurrection was found. We were able to go inside and see the tomb. Although this site was much easier to relate to as a possible place of the crucifixion and resurrection it was very spiritually moving. It was enough to know that at either place I was near where Jesus carried the cross and died for the sins of the world, but most importantly rose from the grave for the promise of eternal life for us all.

 In the words of our Swedish guide at the Garden Tomb, Bertel, who admits that as Scandinavian he is not an emotional person, but sometimes gets so excited he almost thinks Alleluia, "He who was on the cross, and in the tomb, is now on the throne."

Prayer:   Father, Thank you seems like such a small word when we think of all that you have done for us. Your love for us is amazing. Help us to feel your love in our hearts and spread the Good News to your beloved children. He is Risen!'  Amen.

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