Week 2 – Exploring Jerusalem
It’s so crazy that I have only been here in the Holy Land for a little over a week! It’s felt like I’ve been here for a month. There’s so much to do and so much to learn but I’m just trying to slowly absorb it all.
Sundays are like Saturdays here (since the Sabbath is Saturday) so I went out with some friends to explore the Old City. First we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a site where many Christians believe Christ was crucified, buried, and then resurrected. The inside of this place is massive. We stood in line for an hour to go into the tomb where Jesus was supposedly buried before resurrecting. This church was definitely a different experience than the Garden Tomb. It was crowded, with lots of details to look at and some chanting/singing going on in the background. But it was cool to experience a different kind of worship environment and to be in a place that many people consider holy.
After visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we went on the Ramparts Walk, which is located on the walls of the Old City. It was so cool! We were walking where armies would have been stationed to protect the city and everywhere we looked there was a stunning view of the city.
We also ended up back at the Western Wall so I was able to get a picture there. I love this place!
Afterwards, we went out into the markets of the Old City. Lots of fun stuff there.
The other fun places I saw this week were on our class field trip on Monday. We went to many Jerusalem overlook points and there were lots of great views there.
My favorite overlook was of Bethlehem. We had a pretty good view of all the surrounding areas and it was mind-blowing to think of everything, all the significant events of the past, that have happened there. We sang “Angels We Have Heard on High” as well as “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and it was pretty special to sing those familiar words about places we were now looking at. We had some time to ponder and I thought about the scene of the shepherds as described in Luke 2 when the angels appeared to them in the fields and told about the birth of Christ. The reality of this event struck me as I looked out at Bethlehem. I felt the Spirit so strong when the chorus of “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains” came to my mind. “Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God in the Highest. Peace on Earth, goodwill to men. Peace on Earth, goodwill to men.” That just kept repeating as I looked out at Bethlehem and to the sky above where angels would have sung that glory. I joined in my own praise to God for sending the gift of His Son. We are so loved.
Here are a some other pictures from our field trip this week.
Sunday and Monday were my big sight-seeing days. The rest of this week I kept inside the Center for the most part because of a cold I was dealing with, as well as classes and homework. As a side note, I tried my first falafel on Friday and I’m in love. Basically everything I’ve eaten so far is sooo good and I’m grateful for that.
Most of all, I’ve really loved reading and learning about the Old Testament prophets. We talked about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph this week and I’ve never felt more connected to my ancient ancestors. Viewing the places that we know they would have been was so special to me. Our professor even pointed out on our field trip the route which Abraham would have taken on his way to sacrifice Isaac. The significance of this place took on new meaning for me. I’m excited to learn more about the history of this holy land!