Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Holy Walk

 Our group walked down the Mount of Olives this morning to--  the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus took his disciples on the night he was arrested.  He went there, prayed an agonizing prayer in the place of the olive press, and then was arrested.

After a visit to the Church of the Nations, a church built in the Garden of Gethsemane, we entered the Old City through the Sheep Gate.   I had never been in the city through that route, and having taught about the sacrificial lambs at Passover, it was good to finally get to see the place.

We stopped at the Valley of Bethesda at St. Anne, a church built in honor of Mary's mother and commemorating the traditional birthplace of Mary.  It was here we were able to view the Pools of Bethesda, the place where Jesus healed the paralytic (see John 5).  The stone church here is absolutely incredible -- not sure why, but all the churches we went to today were very beautiful  to me, and that has not always been my experience in these places.

Not too far away was another church, Plagellation Chapel, commemorating the flogging of Jesus before his crucifixion.  We then travelled up the Via Delarosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  The place was packed with other pilgrims attempting to visit the place where Jesus was crucified, was buried, and rose from the dead.

Our group then travelled not too far away to the Garden Tomb, a place which has a skull in the cliff, an ancient vineyard garden, and a hewed out tomb from the first century.  Not too many scholars hold that this is the place, but it "feels" ascetically like the place might have been.  Great spiritual day with the group!!
Traveling down the Mount of Olives

Inside the Church of the Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane
Ancient Olive Tree in the Garden of Gethsemane
Inside the Church of the Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane
The Sheep Gate

St. Anne's at Bethesda
Bishop Michael and me at Bethesda

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