DAY 10 – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22:
Today was our first day in Jerusalem. The weather was overcast in the morning, but with sun and clouds in the afternoon, with temps in the 60s.
Driving around the north part of the Old City of Jerusalem, our first glimpse of the Temple Mount and Old City below was from the Mt. of Olives. Looking across the Kidron Valley we could see almost the entire city from here. Walking down a little further we read from Luke 19 and Zechariah 14 about the Palm Sunday event and the prophecy about Christ’s return. Continuing down the slope we spent about an hour in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was a reflective time of contemplating the passion of Jesus who in this place said, “Not my will be yours be done.”
From here we walked into the Old City through the St. Stephen’s (Lion’s / Jericho) gate. Just inside the city was St. Anne’s Church and the Pools of Bethesda. We enjoyed the marvelous “echo” as we sang in the church. We also read John 5.
Walking the Via Dolorosa (mainly shops) to the Holy Sepulcher Church (one possible location for Christ’s crucifixion and burial), we visited the church inside and saw the newly-cleaned chamber that houses the tomb of Jesus.
Following lunch in the Christian Quarter, we walked out the Jaffa Gate and boarded our buses. Driving south and east about 8 miles, we arrived at Herodium. This was one of six “palace-fortresses” of Herod the Great. When he died in Jericho in 4 BC, his body was transported and buried here. It was discovered about 6 years ago. We walked to the top of this archaeological site and saw the towers of the fortress, the bathhouse, the synagogue, and the cistern system. On the way out we got a glance at the recently-revealed frescos that were part of the reception room to the tomb.
Driving to Beit Sahor, we enjoyed a time of singing Christmas carols in a cave in the Shepherds’ Fields. We read from Luke 2 and Galatians 4:4 and celebrated that “just at the right time God sent His Son.” We also sang a few carols in the chapel as well.
We ended the day by stopping at an olive wood factory and store in Bethlehem. Many purchased olive products made here from local olive wood.
We drove back to the hotel for dinner. Following dinner, most in the group enjoyed a special sound and light show at David’s Citadel. We was really well done.
It was a great first day here in Jerusalem!
DAY 11 – THURSDAY, MARCH 23: OLD CITY, WAILING WALL, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT, ISRAEL MUSEUM, YAD VASHEM