Sunday, February 28, 2010

Via Dolorosa

We walked the "way of the cross" when we were in Jerusalem. We took the path that is identified with the journey of Christ to the cross. But it wasn't what I expected. It wasn't the respectful preservation of the past. It wasn't a beautiful walk through history.

It was the market place.

It was a run of a gauntlet of aggressive shopkeepers wanting to sell you their wares. This was quite disconcerting during the experience. It wasn't until afterwards as some of us were talking that the thought arose that this was probably a more accurate portrayal of Christ's experience then our naive expectation. I had not thought of it before, but most likely, Jesus was marched through the center of town to his execution. The environment He walked through was probably the ancient version of the market we endured.

Well, I'm off now to return to my pew in the comfortable environs of my own church. I know today, I will remember to pray for

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Walking in the footsteps

The Rev and I are hardly world travelers but we have had a couple of opportunities to travel in ancient lands. One of the things that intrigues me the most about this is the chance to walk were others have gone before. When we were in Ephesus a couple of years ago, I was moved by walking up the road that had felt the feet of Paul and the chariot wheels of Anthony & Cleopatra so many years before.

On this trip, I had hoped that I would be able to walk in the footsteps of those names I had grown up reading about in church. It isn't easy in the Holy Land to find such places. This turf has been fought over, conquered, re- conquered, liberated, and occupied for so many centuries that finding a spot from the biblical times is not easy. We did find a couple of places that are thought to be from those days.

The first is a section of paving stones that is thought to be from a main street in Jerusalem from the Roman period. It is entirely possible that Jesus and/or some of the disciples trod on these very stones.

The other place we found is a set of stairs going up to where the palace of Caiaphas is thought to have been. It is thought that these were the steps Jesus used when he was arrested.

The Holy Land is an interesting place to visit as a tourist or pilgrim. I am used to visiting historic places and seeing the preserved site or reconstructed ruins. That is sort of the way we do things in America. When we find a site of historical importance, we fence it off and try to preserve it in it's original condition or at least a recreation of that state. Of course, our sites are not as ancient and have not been revered for as many years. In this area, in earlier times, the way of marking a cite was to build a church on it. It took some getting used to - the experience of going to a place and being told, this is the church that commemorates the site of such and such event.

I understand the need. This land has been fought over for centuries. Many of these churches have been built, destroyed, re-built and destroyed again and again.

I was reminded time and again how hard it is for us as a people to find. . .


Friday, February 19, 2010

Back in the USA

Well, we made it back home. Actually the trip home went off without a hitch. All three flights on time, the bags were in CR and the landings smooth. Couldn't ask for anything better. Of course it was a full 24 hours from the time we entered the airport in Tel Aviv to the time we left the airport in Cedar Rapids but hey, that's life.

I have about 400 pictures to go through and some video so it will be awhile before I get media out.

The Rev and I had a great time. We have so many stories to tell. . .
- Rev preaching at the pool of Bethesda
- Praying at the Western Wall
- Sunbob eating fish from the Sea of Galilee
- an Ash Wednesday service in an ancient chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (never again will I be able to receive the ashes without remembering that experience.)
- Entering the Garden Tomb (yes, it is still empty). Then taking communion at the site.
- Remembering our baptism in (yes in) the Jordan River.

I went to Jerusalem expecting to see "sites". What I didn't expect was getting to meet some of the people. I have a whole new perspective on the Palestine/Israel conflict.

More to come as I debrief.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Visiting the pools at Bethesda

More exploration today. It is Ash Wednesday and that played into one of my highlights for the day. We took the imposition of the ashes from the bishop in an ancient chapel within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I will never experience another Ash Wednesday service without remembering this experience.

The highlight for me for today, though, was visiting the pools at Bethesda. That its because it was the Rev's turn for the devotional. How do I explain what it felt like to hear her preach in Jerusalem? It was great for me to watch her do her thing.
From a land that struggles so hard with the concept,
I wish you PEACE.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We are in the Holy Land

We finally made it to Jerusalem and are enjoying our tours of the Holy Land.

Yesterday we learned a lot about the Palastinians and the conflicts over here. We have visited the West Bank as well as the Golan Heights.

The highpoints for me today occured on and in the water. We took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. This is one of the real places that we can be sure of. We visit all of these sights and you really wonder just how real they are - but the Sea of Galilee is real. We stopped the boat away from shore and were served communion by the Bishop. It was an amazing event.

Later we visited the Jordan River. The photo at the top is from the place that is identified as the site were John baptised Jesus. Whether this is really the spot or not didn't deminish the impact for me. When we stepped from the bank, into the waters of the river, to remember our baptism was a very emotional experience for me. Surely something I will remember and carry with me the rest of my days.

I will have many more pictures when we get home and I can sort through them. I have gone through 2 sets of batteries already and the video camera battery is almost done as well.

To all of you my wish and prayer is for the one thing that seems to elude this very special land. . .


Sunday, February 14, 2010

I took the Rev to Paris for Valentines Day???

Well, not intentionally. We set out on Friday to get to Tel Aviv to go on a Holy Land trip. We were routed through Atlanta and that got snowed in so we have been routed through Paris. I'm not exactly sure even what day this is - we have been living in airport terminals but we are going to get to Jerusalem tonight and will join up with our group for the rest of the week.

I just had to have a post from Paris on this site. My first experience with an internet cafe. Pretty cool really.

Let's just tell everyone that I was really cool and took the Rev to Paris for Valentines Day.


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Lights in City Hall

Last night when I left work there were lights on in the City Hall on Mays Island, third floor. This building has been abandoned since the flood and the city council has been fighting about whether or not they should return to this building. I haven't seen any lights in this building for about a year and a half.

Ron Corbett, our new mayor, ran on a platform of returning the city government to this building. I wonder what is going on.

Oh well, I don't claim to have any inside information about this. I just work downtown and have a vested interest in the recovery of the downtown district. Personally, I don't see any reason to not return. We have returned to our building just across the river, so I really don't understand why the city can't return to City Hall.