Mount of Olives panorama

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

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Paul and Denise in Jerusalem

Our friends Paul and Denise McGuire arrived in Tel Aviv at 2:50 a.m.!  By the time we had driven back to Jerusalem, taken them out on the seventh floor deck to look at the Old City at night and hear the early morning (4:40 a.m.) call to prayer, we were pretty tired!

After just a couple hours of sleep, we attended sacrament meeting with the Jerusalem Branch here in the center.  We missed all of our students, and the new group does not arrive until Wednesday.  But we had 2 tour buses of tourists join us for services, so the Auditorium was fairly full.

We slipped out after that.  Following a few pictures at the center, Elaine and Samuel drove us to the Seven Arches Overlook to get some pictures and for me to give a quick description of the topography and city.

Elaine dropped Paul, Denise, Rachel, and me off at the Dung Gate and then drove Samuel back to the center.  She got a nap and started on dinner while we began a whirlwind tour of the Old City and a couple sites, Gethsemane and the Garden Tomb, just outside the walls. 

Just inside the Dung Gate we looked at the corner of the Temple Mount and the area revealed by the excavations of the Davidson Archaeological Park.  We then passed through security and visited the Western Wall, the holiest surviving site in Judaism.  Because it was Shabbat, we could not take any cameras or video recorders since the Western Wall Plaza is the equivalent of an open-air synagogue.  Rachel took Denise and I took Paul into the women's and men's areas respectively, where they could touch the wall and engage in whatever level of prayer was meaningful to them.

After leaving the Plaza and climbing the steps to an overlook in the Jewish Quarter, we took a few pictures and got this video clip:

Corner of the Temple Mount
Looking down towards the Western Wall
We walked through the Jewish Quarter, where everything was closed for Sabbath, so the only pictures I have are of the Cardo, the main street of Jerusalem in the period after Hadrian's rebuilding of Jerusalem as a Roman city in A.D. 135.

We exited the Jewish Quarter and took a few quick pictures in front of the Citadel or "Tower of David" before plunging into the streets of the Christian Quarter.  In contrast to the closed and shuttered shops of the Jewish Quarter, the shops here were thronged on Saturday.

By this point it was time for lunch, so we stopped in the Muristan near the Holy Sepulchre to introduce Paul and Denise to shwarma sandwiches.  Rachel contented herself with an awful falafal.

It was then time for some serious work, starting with the Holy Sepulchre.  I am too exhausted to give a history of the site here, so I will refer you to an earlier detailed post on the student's visit there as part of their Christian Jerusalem field trip.  Suffice it to say that we had a surprisingly moving experience by the exposed stone of the Rock of Golgotha below the Catholic and Orthodox altars.  Also while walking around the "tomb," we noted that rather than being distracted by the candles and unfamiliar forms of worship, we could instead "look up" to the light streaming from the oculus in the dome above, which was itself a wonderful symbol of the resurrection.

By the Greek altar over Golgotha

Earliest Christian tradition placed the crucifixion on a rocky outcropping that was thus named Golgotha

By the Aedicule or shrine containing the remains of the tomb

Light streams through the oculus in the dome above the Aedicule
Our last stops in the Old City were to walk along the Via Dolorosa and make a visit to the Austrian Hospice, the roof of which affords a great vantage point for viewing the city. Paige, the video clip is mostly for you (Paige is Paul and Denise's daughter, recently returned from a mission to Austria and southern Germany).

The place where Simon of Cyrene's carrying of the cross is commemorated

The fifth station of the cross on the Via Dolorosa or "Way of Sorrows"

The Ecce Homo Arch, where tradition claims that Pilate presented Jesus to the crowd and said, "Behold the Man!" (this arch actually dates to the time of Hadrian, long after Jesus).

Standing on the steps of the Austrian Hospice

We exited the Old City from Lion's Gate and walked down to Gethsemane across the Qidron Valley.  After spending some time in the Basilica of the Agony, we met my colleague Jared Ludlow and several family and friends he was guiding today.  Together we held a devotional to remember Jesus' suffering in the garden.  Jared read from Luke 22 and I read from Mosiah 3 and D&C 19.  We then sang "Reverently and Meekly Now."

Walking across the bottom of the Qidron to the Basilica of the Agony

Old olive trees in Gethsemane

The Betrayal of Judas

We then took a cab to Nablus Road not far from the Garden Tomb.  Coming in off the busy Arab Street, the Garden Tomb compound was an island of peace and tranquility.  The four of us had a devotional by ourselves after we looked at Gordon's Calvary from "Skull Hill."  We read the crucifixion accounts from Luke 23 and John 19 and then sang three or four sacrament hymns together.

We then went to the other side of the Garden, where, in site of the "tomb" we read all four resurrection accounts.  By that point we had met up with the Ludlow group again, so we all joined in singing "He Is Risen" and "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today."

We came home for a fried chicken dinner made by Elaine.  After that, Elaine joined us for an adult trip to the open hillside that we affectionately call "LDS Shepherds Field."  There, in site of Bethlehem  on the hill across the valley," we had Christmas in April!  It was wonderful to read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and then sing carol after carol with our friends.

O Little Town of Bethlehem!

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