Sunday, March 17, 2013
Camel Rides, Garden Escapes to the Garden Tomb
Today was the last full day of our tour to the Holy Land together as a group with Women's Journey of Faith. One last day in Jerusalem, we started off our day with a fun Camel ride! Yes, a little bit of a tourist trap but our tour guide humoured us to arrange another stop for the photo opp with our lumpy back hairy friend on top of the Mount of Olives. Worth every bit of the 15 shekels for our giggling gals!
We then embarked on a walking tour down the hillside to Garden of Gethsemene & the Pools of Bethseda. It was there that Sandra read from the Word of God where Jesus healed a man. We too must ask ourselves.. "Do you want to be healed?" Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever and He is asking if we too want to walk in the freedom, healing and wholeness that he offers... or do we want to stay in ruts of complacent, apathetic spiritual numbness? Jesus came to bring us life to the full! (John 10:10). Hearing the pitch perfect acoustic in the church on site was heart searing as well. (If I get a chance, I'll get back there and do my rendition of Ave-Maria & the Lord's Prayer alongside with the priests, monks, nuns, bishops and pastors faithful prayer people who frequent there throughout the nations each day!)
Back on the path down the hillside, we entered the old city through the "Lions Gate" on our route to the Via Delarosa , the path that Jesus walked with his cross on the way to be crucified. Our guide led us down under a monastery where archeologists unearthed the original path that Jesus walked. We all knelt down and touched the ground in deep intercession for our own sin that led him there. Humbling really. Praise God that he took all of our sins upon himself and when we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us!
We meandered to other stops including our visit to yet another awesome lunch of Falafal's. NUMMY! Walking amidst cultures from the Palestinian quarter, the Jewish and Christian, Armenian quarter was fascinating to "people watch". We definitely stand out as tourists, but they welcome us as their economy thrives on it and they too realize that the world has it's eyes on their nation. What I have found to be true and foundational to relationships (both long term, short term and even as a 'passerby' when traveling) is to follow His great commandment of loving God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself. In Israel, that means to show love and honour when meeting others on the street, or those who serve you. When honour is present, we grow in our faith once more to another level that is truly counter cultural.
After lunch we ventured off to the Israel museum and tow key sites that brought the Bible to such clarity for us...Fascinating! Two key sites included the Catholic Church in the old city (Church of the Holy Sepplica) and then a visit to the Garden Tomb where most protestants believe to be the site where Jesus' tomb was/is. Our group agreed that the feeling there was so surreal and more peaceful (compared to the Church of the Holy Sepplica where more orthodox or Catholic christians believe to be the site of his tomb)... When at the first site, it was crowded with hundreds of worshippers from many nations, seeking to touch the supposed site of his tomb there and we were filled with mixed emotions seeing many mournful desperate faces there. I am sure at both sites, there were people from all different denominations and religions. When sitting in our circle at the Garden Tomb site amidst the hillside, we had such peace having our communion service together as sisters in faith. Hearing other groups sing worship songs in different languages in their own communion circles around us was fascinating. Among us all, we had a unified peaceful assurance that because of Christ- we can be united as one amidst our diversity. We proclaimed together that he is Risen! He is Alive! Likewise, it really doesn't matter to us where Jesus' tomb really was, what matters to us is that He is in our hearts, and through the power of His Holy Spirit we too are alive in Him. As the Father sent Christ Jesus into the World to show us the way, Christ then sends His followers into the world to serve, love, pray and speak about His name.
We ended the day with a dinner together at a nearby restaurant where we shared many thoughts, memories, impact moments of faith that we will share together for a lifetime! We will share more highlights on this blog (including a photo album in the coming week), but until then- keep us in your prayers as we make our treck back to Canada!
Shalom and Thanks for sharing the Journey to Israel with us! - Lisa, Jodi, Pam, Sandra, Joanne, Gwen, Sherri, Ruth, Cathy and Alice:)