Feb 12, 2020
Today is Day 10 of my Holy Land pilgrimage. Even though we saw some good sites today, I am exhausted. There has been a lot of good stuff crammed into a week and a half over here. Yes, it has been an incredibly rewarding experience – but, boy, am I tired! This feels like a super-sized seminary intensive course. I’m ready to go home and rest. I am so glad that I have a few days off at home before I have to head back to work.
So what were the last few stops on our itinerary? We started the day by going to the Mount of Olives and seeing The Chapel of the Ascension which celebrates Jesus ascending into heaven (Acts 1). This is a small octagonal building and does not have services in it. (There isn’t much room inside.) However, there are a number of small altars around it in a courtyard for different groups to pray. This church was one of the first four to be built by Constantine and his mother Helena when they came into Jerusalem. The other three are The Church of the Annunciation, The Church of the Nativity, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Inside the church of the Ascension, there is a rock in a frame on the floor. This is said to be the point from which Jesus ascended.
We then took a short walk and saw the Pater Noster Church (“Our Father”) which is supposed to be where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. It’s basically a small cave. As we’ve learned on this trip, people used caves for a bunch of different reasons.
After Pater Noster, we went to Dominus Flavit – “The Lord is crying.” It celebrates the place where Jesus wept over Jerusalem and also where he later started the Palm Sunday procession. As you can see from the picture, it offers a great view of the city of Jerusalem. You can easily imagine Jesus looking at the city and weeping – and later making his way into the city on Palm Sunday. While we were there, Ezra gave us a 15 minute quick history of the city of Jerusalem. One thing he said is that, in the Talmudic writings, it is said that, when God created the world, God had 10 measures of beauty. God gave 9 to Jerusalem and 1 to the rest of the world. However, God also had 10 measures of sorrow – and gave 9 to Jerusalem and 1 to the rest of the world. I can see that.
From there, we made our way to a museum called The Shrine of the Book. There we saw a 1/50th scale model of the city of Jerusalem in the year 66. This model was outside the museum. It was incredibly detailed and took 12 years to make. Inside, we saw the original Dead Sea Scrolls! Ezra made it clear to us that pictures are okay outside for the model but forbidden inside for the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was incredible, though, to be right there and see the pieces of the scrolls right behind glass. Although 964 books were discovered in the caves of Qumran, only some of them or pieces of them were on display.
After that museum and a stop for lunch, we saw another museum – the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. It is called Yad Vashem which translates to “Memorial of the names (of the 6 million Jews who were killed).” They had a special section called the Children’s Memorial which was particularly stunning. In the 6 million Jews who were killed, there were 1.5 million kids. This children’s museum does something amazing to honor them. By using only four candles and a bunch of mirrors, the museum made it look like we were walking through a hall with 1.5 million lights floating around us. Plus, as we walked, a narrator was saying the names, ages, and places of birth for each of those kids. The exhibit took just a minute or two to walk through, but it was very powerful.
On the way back to the hotel, we briefly stopped at a little promenade with a wonderful view of this amazing city. After one last picture, we headed back to the hotel to start packing up before dinner.
This has been a wonderful and life-changing pilgrimage. I have plenty of memories, knowledge, pictures (over 1100!), and souvenirs to bring home with me and share with others. We leave for the airport tonight at 8pm and our flight to New York leaves around midnight. Although I am not looking forward to another long flight, I will definitely do it to see my family again.
Thanks for “coming with me” on this life-changing trip. You have no idea how much your support and prayers mean to me. I’ll let you know when I make it home safely.