DAY 10 – MONDAY, JANUARY 19
Today was our first day in Jerusalem! With the sun shining on our east, our first view of the Old City of Jerusalem was spectacular! Driving from our hotel located across from the Hinnom Valley, we drove to the top of the Mt. of Olives. Looking west is the Temple Mount and the Old City. We walked down to Dominus Flavet, a church about half way down the slope. Here we read from Luke 19 (Palm Sunday) and Zechariah 14 (a prophecy about the nations gathering here one day). Near the Kidron Valley below is the Garden of Gethsamane. We paused to reflect upon Christ’s agony here (Matthew 25).
From here we walked into the Old City through the Lion’s (or Stephen’s) Gate. We stopped at St. Anne’s and enjoyed singing in this crusader church. We also read John 5 about the Pools of Bethesda also located here. Soon the Via Dolorosa begins. We walked to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher an area of NT Jerusalem where Jesus may have been crucified and buried.
Walking out of the Old City through the Jaffa Gate, we re-boarded our bus and drove southeast to Herodium, one of King Herod’s palace-fortresses. Following another “falafel” lunch here, we climbed the site. From the top we can see Bethlehem and Tekoa (the home of Amos). Before descending down through the cistern system, we got a “sneak peak” of the amazing and most recent excavations of the palace area. Here we saw original frescos and a series of monumental arches.
Next we drove into Bethlehem, visiting first the Shepherds’ Fields (where we sang carols in a cave and chapel) and then the Church of Nativity (where we saw the traditional birthplace of Jesus). We ended the day at an olive wood shop.
We drove back to the hotel, enjoying a free night. It was another great day!
DAY 11 – TUESDAY, JANUARY 20
We plan to visit the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter, Yad Vashem, and the Israel Museum.