February 15, 2015

Day 5 in Israel: Sunday on the Mount of Olives, the Western Wall and Bethlehem

Greetings Friends,

We had a beautiful Sunday morning here in the city of Peace: Jerusalem. I'll admit I've picked up a cold and am a little under the weather so I would covet your prayers for restored health. But God is good and I was able to still participate in this full and wonderful day!

We began this sunny Sunday at the mount of olives. The mountain where Jesus ascended into heaven and rode down to the temple on a donkey! We were able to walk the very same road that Jesus came down during his triumphal entry into the city. It was a beautiful site and a beautiful morning.

At the bottom of the hill is the Garden of Gethsemane, an oil press factory during the time of Jesus that pressed oil for the temple. The olive trees are still here to this day and a beautiful church sits over the spot venerated as the place where Jesus prayed in agony. I sat in the church and echoed the same prayer as Jesus, "not my will but Your will be done."

From the Mount of Olives we went over to the southern wall excavations and saw the main roads and steps leading up the temple during the time of Jesus.

We also visited the 'wailing' or western wall where people from all over the world come to pray. I'll admit this was the most powerful moment of the trip for me this far, to stand and pray in the city of peace with people from all over the world was an overwhelming experience. I prayed for my family, my church, for myself and for the peace of Jerusalem.

We drove from the western wall to mt Zion to the traditional site of the upper room and King David's tomb. At King David's tomb there were rabbis and Hasidic jews singing the scriptures and teaching the Torah. I enjoyed listening to them speaking in Hebrew, Spanish, French, German and English as people came by.

This afternoon we went to the city of Bethlehem, in Palestine. We had lunch and visited an olive wood shop where they had beautifully carved olive wood items. From there we went to the church of the nativity, the oldest functioning church in the world. Here the church is built over the cave where early Christians believed Jesus was born. It was a humbling experience to be on a place that so many Christians have visited for centuries and I was reminded of the great cloud of witnesses that has gone before us. The church itself is undergoing significant renovation and restoration now that the three sects of Christianity that oversee the church have finally agreed that work needs to be done. You can see the restoration work and me touching the spot where Jesus was born over on my Facebook page.

The sites here are all so close that they begin to blend together but each one strikes a different chord within me and I am learning new things at each of them even though I have been there before.

Jerusalem is also a very modern city and currently, as I write this, we are sitting on the bus at 5:30pm in rush hour traffic.

Tomorrow we visit the Temple Mount, Old City and the Garden Tomb.

Have a blessed Sunday. Until tomorrow!


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