Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Jerusalem, Day 4

Today was Shabbat for Jewish residents of Israel and Jerusalem, and for various reasons, Latter-day Saints in the Land also hold their worship services on Saturdays.  So we have spent most of the day in church meetings and visiting with friends, though we will also be attending Anglican services tomorrow morning.

After two weeks of touring at an exhausting, break-neck pace, it was nice to sleep in this morning and start with a lazy breakfast in the charming courtyard of the Christ Church compound. 

 Christ Church, just inside Jaffa Gate and directly east across from the Citadel, is the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East.  Together with St. George's Cathedral in East Jerusalem, it is one of the two main Anglican churches in the city.  Although Rachel and I used to visit the English-speaking congregation of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer the most often when we lived here, we also visited Christ Church several times because the director of the Anglican School, where Rachel and Samuel attended, is also one of the Anglican priests here.

Anyway, the church also maintains a museum, a gift shop, and a guest house in its compound, and I thought it would be an affordable, and unique, place to stay since it is right in the Old City but comfortable and safe.

After breakfast we took a cab up to the BYU Jerusalem Center for church.  As soon as we got in the cab, the driver asked, "Are you Mormons?" no doubt clued in by our white shirts and ties and the women's dresses on a Saturday morning and our destination to Mount Scopus.  When I used my snatches of Arabic on him, he said, "You must have been a teacher there, you know Arabic!"

It felt comfortable and familiar settling into the seats in the upper floor Auditorium for sacrament meeting.  The only thing was Samuel, whom I felt instinctively should be sitting next to me, leaning against me as he always did as I brought him to that room week after week for sacrament meeting.  We stayed for the three hour block, attending our other classes in the familiar seminar rooms.

With my friend Mark Slight, who is the LDS district president and was there speaking this morning.
Missing Elaine and Samuel as we attended sacrament meeting the Jerusalem Center.

No better views or setting for a commemoration of the Lord's Supper!
Some people visiting the Jerusalem Center express a bit of regret that the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock is off-center, appearing in the left of the Auditorium's view.  Though difficult to make out in the pictures above and below, I like to point out that the view is instead oriented directly towards the light gray domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

A friend from the Jerusalem Center gave us a ride to the Lion's Gate, surprising Lori and Royd with the unbelievable, and chaotic, traffic of East Jerusalem.  Rachel and I had been somewhat looking forward to walking there from the center, leaving form the lower gate and then walking down through Es-Sawana and then up past the "Arab Costco," but it just as well that we spared them the long, hot walk.

We then went to the Austrian Hospice, where we met and had lunch with Malak and Mona, two dear friends who both had worked in the JC office while we were there.  It was  a lovely reunion.

When one realizes what special people we have in our lives in so many places, it almost hurts that we can only live in one place at a time!

As we walked back through the heart of the Old City to the guest house on the west side, we stopped at the Church of Alexander Nevsky just east of the Holy Sepulchre compound.  The church is part of what was once a Russian hospice serving pilgrims and officials from the old empire.  

 When it was being built, various archaeological finds, the so-called "Russian Excavations," were discovered in what is now the basement.  One is an arch from the monumental gateway to the forum that Hadrian that built around the Temple of Aphrodite.  This temple is significant, because Hadrian built it on the site that had been venerated by local Christians as the place of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.  Indeed, the basilica of Constantine's original church later extended this far to the east.  

 The other find was a partial wall and the remains of a gate built of Herodian stones.  Though these may have been re-used in a later structure, the belief is that they represent the Gate of Judgment through which Jesus passed on his way to his crucifixion.

The threshold stone of the Gate of Judgment, over which Jesus is believed to have passed.

Rachel passing through the so-called "Eye of the Needle"
 Upstairs is a lovely orthodox chapel featuring beautiful paintings of Jesus' passion and resurrection.

Rachel looking appropriately somber before the inconstasis of the Russian church


We came home to the Guest House to rest a bit . . . and I slept for three hours! I am not much of a napper, but the non-stop, whirlwind pace of two weeks of touring caught up with me, I guess.  We then went to meet our friend Jimmy of Jimmy's Bazaar for dinner and walked right into the Jerusalem light show.  Have never seen the Old City quite like this!

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