Where it all began

Where it all began

Where to begin today? We returned home late last night from two weeks based in Jerusalem for the start of Andrew’s sabbatical.  So many stories, impressions and experiences – where do I begin?

Jerusalem (along with nearby Bethlehem where we spent 4 days & nights) certainly has a claim to being the place where our Christian faith, and our Jewish heritage, all began. Within the disorientating, yet compelling, Church of the Holy Sepulchre can be found the traditional sites of creation, crucifixion and resurrection. Quite a claim!

Wandering the ancient, crowded streets of the Old City it is not difficult to feel you are walking in the very footsteps of Jesus, as the Via Dolorosa invites pilgrims to do. The ground level may be about 40 feet higher now than it was in the 1st Century but surely the climate, the aromas, the bustle, the ubiquitous flights of steps are much the same?

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I was intrigued by this 13th Century map which showed Jerusalem as the centre and meeting place of three continents.

In many ways it is now the meeting place of the world – on Palm Sunday we were part of a procession of 10,000 Christians from every tribe and nation (or so it felt ) joyfully making our way from Bethphage into the city,  just as Jesus did at the start of the first Holy Week.  Many come to express solidarity with Palestinian Christians, a decreasing and pressurised community.  (A moving experience, impossible to capture on camera!)
To be there in Holy Week was awe-inspiring (if crowded!; we were also there during Pesach  (Passover) and witnessed the remarkable sight of 100,000 Jews from all over the world gathered at the Western Wall on Thursday for the Priestly Blessing.

 

 

 

 

 

In Bethlehem the previous Friday we happened to be in Manger Square during Islamic Friday Prayers – yet another vast crowd of faithful people were assembled, listening in devout silence to amplified preaching from the mosque.

If Jerusalem was once the meeting point of three continents it is now the meeting point of three faiths. That causes tensions. We were glad to spend some time with Rev. Kristen Brown of the United Methodist Church, USA, and Rev. John Howard, from the British Methodist Church who are based at the Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem; they give of themselves unsparingly in seeking to build peaceful community amidst the tension.

Of that (as of many other impressions), more another day – already this blogpost is also struggling to know where to end…

Where and when and how the situation in the Middle East will end is an unanswerable question – and an ongoing prayer.  “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6).  Jill

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6 thoughts on “Where it all began

  1. Again many thanks for this. You may like to watch the programme that Fern Britain did for the BBC about her pilgrimage through Jerusalem, if you have access to i-player.

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  2. Palm Sunday and Easter in Jerusalem. Wow! What an experience and I hope you and Andrew will have some time and space for reflection. I am due to be going to Jerusalem and then on to Galilee next Monday. Won’t believe it till I am on the plane! L x

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  3. This brought back so many memories of our Pilgrimage last year with John and Ivor leading W’ton and Shrewsbury District folk.
    This year we spent Easter in Australia, Good Friday worship with400+ at Robina New Life Church, Gold Coast, where Kevin regularly worships. A much smaller congregation on Easter morning at Coolum, Sunshine coast, where a baby was baptised and we were all invited to renew our own Baptismal Vows.
    Love and blessings, to you and Andrew.x

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  4. We hope that this sabbatical will be a time of blessing to you both. Thank you for reminding me of the feeling as we walked the Via Dolorosa, I was on Pilgrimage with my sister and my nieces with their church in Leeds in March 1996 a never to be forgotten experience.

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