May 2018 Extensive Israel Tour Summary – Day 10

DAY 10 –MONDAY, MAY 14: JERUSALEM, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

(Theme of the Day: Jesus and His redemptive plan) 

Today is an historic day here in Jerusalem. It is special to be here the day that the US Embassy officially moves to Jerusalem. It would be another sunny day, with highs in the 70s.

Mt. of Olives

Jerusalem

Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives

Leaving the hotel around 7:30, we drove around the Old City to the Mt. of Olives. Here we enjoyed a panoramic view of the City of David (to the south), the Temple Mount, and entire Old City below. We read from Luke 19 (Palm Sunday), and Zechariah 14 (Christ’s Second Coming). We celebrated Christ as King!

Garden of Gethsemane

We walked down this western slope of the Mt. of Olives to an area designated as the Garden of Gethsemane. In full view of the Eastern Gate (Ezekiel 44), we pondered the words of Jesus, “not my will but yours be done…” from Luke 22. These were words that displayed Jesus’ willingness to endure the cross. 

Old City: Pools of Bethesda & St. Anne’s Church, and Holy Sepulcher Church

Bethesda Pool

The Pool of Bethesda

Walking down to the Kidron Valley and then back up to the St. Stephen’s (also called Lion’s and Jericho Gate), we entered the Old City. Our first stop was the St. Anne’s Church. It was a Crusader Church with wonderful acoustics (an 8 second echo). We sang a few songs, with Ruth sharing a special song as well. On the same grounds are the archaeological ruins of the Pools of Bethesda. This is where the paralyzed man was healed by Jesus (John 5). Built over these ruins were Late Roman and Crusader churches. 

Walking the Via Dolorosa (the “way of the cross,” even though Jesus carried the cross from the opposite direction), we arrived at the Holy Sepulcher Church. It was built in the 4th century AD. This location serves as one of two suggested sites for the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Inside the Edicule is the suggested actual tomb of Jesus. Close by in the Christian Quarter we ate lunch.

Herodium

Herodium

Herodium

Walking out of the Jaffa Gate, we met our bus and drove to Herodium. This is an archaeological site excavated for over 35 years. It was a palace-fortress of Herod the Great. While this Judean king died in Jericho in 4 BC, he was buried here. We climbed to the top of the site where we had a wonderful view of the area. To the north we could see Jerusalem; to the east the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea; to the south the village of Tekoa; and to the west Bethlehem. Among the ruins we saw were the towers, the synagogue, the bathhouse, and the cistern system. 

Shepherds’ Fields

Driving to Beat Sahour, we visited the Shepherds’ Fields. Gathering in a cave, we considered the role of the shepherd in biblical days. We read from Micah 5 and Luke 2 about the birth narrative of Jesus. Also before leaving we enjoyed singing a few carols in the Chapel of the Shepherds. We sounded angelic!

Bethlehem

Shepherds

Shepherd and angel relief (chapel of the Shepherds)

We ended the day in Bethlehem at an olive wood shop and store. The store is owned by Palestinian Christians. Bethlehem is known for its olive wood carvings. We enjoyed some shopping here.

We returned back to tour hotel. We passed close to where the new Embassy is now located.  Following dinner, we went to Ben Yehuda Street for a little taste of modern Israeli culture, shopping, and ice cream. We walked back to the hotel.

DAY 11 – TUESDAY, MAY 15: OLD CITY, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, JEWISH QUARTER & SHORASHIM, CHURCH OF ST. PETER GALLICANTU, YAD VASHEM

(Theme of the day: Facing the “walls” of life)

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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 10

DAY 10 – TUESDAY, MARCH 20: MT. OF OLIVES, GETHSEMANE, OLD CITY, POOL OF BETHESDA, CHURCH OF HOLY SEPULCHER, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

Today was our first day in Jerusalem, and it was a great one! The weather was perfect, with full sun and temps in the low 70s.

Mt. of Olives

Mt. of Olives

The Old City and Temple Mount from the Mt. of Olives

Leaving the hotel about 7:30 after breakfast, we drove around the Old City of Jerusalem to the Mt. of Olives. Here we enjoyed a panoramic view of the entire Old City, the Temple Mount, the the City of David to the south. Walking down to the chapel called Dominus Flavet, we read from Luke 19 and Zechariah 14. From here we continued our walk to the Garden of Gethsemane. Brother Diego greeted us here. We also enjoyed a quite reflective time here, considering the passion of Jesus (Luke 22).

Old City

Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane

We walked to the Old City from here through St. Stephen’s Gate (also called the Lion’s and Jericho gate). At the Pools of Bethesda we read from John 5 about the healing that took place here. We also sounded angelic as we sang a few songs in St. Anne’s Church (Crusader, with an eight-second echo!). We continued our walk to the Holy Sepulcher Church in the heart of the Christian Quarter. This is one of two possible places for the crucifixion and burial tomb of Jesus. We explored the church on our own. It dates to 325 AD. We also ate lunch nearby.

Herodium

Herodium

Herodium – where Herod the Great was buried

We walked out of the Old City through the Jaffa Gate and boarded our bus. We drove southeast to Herodium. This was where Herod the Great was buried in 4 BC. We climbed this partially artificial hill to the top, offering us a good view of Jerusalem to the north, the Judean Desert to the east, Bethlehem to the west, and Tekoa to the south. We even saw some migrating storks fly overhead. We descended down through the cistern system of the site.

Shepherd’s Fields/Bethlehem

small lamb

A small lamb at the Shepherds’ Fields

Nearby in Beit Sahour, we made a brief stop at the Shepherds’ Fields. Descending into a cave at the Shepherds’ Fields, we read from Micah 5 and Luke 2, in celebration of Christ’s birth that came “just at the right time (Galatians 4:4).” We also sang a few carols in the cave as well as in the chapel. To end the day, we visited an olive wood shop and store owned by Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem. The olive wood pieces are amazing!

We drove back to the hotel for dinner and an optional walk to Ben Yehuda Street for some shopping and a taste of more modern Israeli life.

DAY 11 – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21: SERVICE PROJECT WITH BRIDGES FOR PEACE, FREE TIME

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March 2016 Israel Tour – Day 8

DAY 8 – SUNDAY, MARCH 13

Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives

Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives

Today was our first day in Jerusalem! We woke to sunny skies and temps in the 50s. Highs today would reach in the 70s, again ideal. Leaving the hotel at 7:35 today, our first destination was the Mt. of Olives. The view of the Old City and the Temple Mount is the very best from here! We read from Luke 19 (the Palm Sunday story) and Zechariah 14 (the return of Christ) from Dominus Flevet (a chapel preserving the place where Jesus wept over Jerusalem) as we considered Jesus’ first and second coming in God fulfilling His redemptive plan for the world.

Walking down the “traditional” Palm Sunday road, we walked to a more private area where we reflected upon Christ’s passion. Here in the Garden of Gethsemane we read from Luke 22 and considered Jesus’ words, “Not my will, but yours be done.” It was special to spend some time alone here.

Pool of Bethesda

Pool of Bethesda

Walking into the Old City through the Lion’s/St. Stephen’s Gate, we arrived at St. Anne’s Crusader Church. We enjoyed the almost 10 second echo as we sang a few songs together. Shlomo played Amazing Grace as well. We also read John 5 overlooking the Pool of Bethesda. The ruins of the 5 “colonnades” could be seen below. The walk through the Old City continued from here on a pathway commonly called the Via Dolorosa (although the “way of the cross” of Jesus was probably from the other direction). We ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is one of two suggested locations for both the crucifixion and burial site of Christ.

Following lunch in the Christian Quarter, we walked out of the Jaffa Gate and boarded the bus to Herodium. This was where Herod the Great was buried. His tomb was discovered 5-6 years ago here. Herodium is a unique archaeological site that offers a great view of the surrounding areas. Although it was a bit hazy, we could see the outline of Moab (Jordan), the Dead Sea, the Mt. of Olives, Tekeo (where Amos was from), and Bethlehem.

Olive wood in Bethlehem

Olive wood in Bethlehem

Driving to Beit Sahor, we enjoyed a time of reflection and Christmas caroling at the Shepherds’ Fields. Sitting in a cave together, we celebrated that “just at the right time, God sent His Son (Gal. 4:4).” We also sang carols in the chapel as well.

Our last stop of the day was in Bethlehem. Here we visited an olive wood factory and store. We enjoyed some shopping here. Driving back to our hotel, we ate dinner together. It was followed by an optional walk to Ben Yehuda Street. David drove us there in the bus. We walked back together to the hotel.

It was a great first day here in Jerusalem!

DAY 9 – MONDAY, MARCH 14: OLD CITY, WAILING WALL, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, JEWISH QUARTER, ISRAEL MUSEUM, YAD VASHEM

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