DAY 8– SATURDAY, MARCH 21
We were greeted to another sunny day, a bit cooler though, with temps in the high 50s). Leaving the hotel once again at 7:30, our first stop the Mt. of Olives. Driving to the top offered a spectacular view of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. From here we could see the City of David (to the south and now outside the Old City walls), the Dome of the Rock, the Eastern Gate, and the Holy Sepulcher. We read from Luke 19 and Zechariah 14 about Jesus’ Palm Sunday approach into the city and the prophecy about His return. We walked down the narrow path to Dominus Flavet church (traditionally where Jesus wept over Jerusalem) and to the Garden of Gethsemane (where He prayed and eventually betrayed by Judas).
From here we crossed the Kidron Valley and walked up into the Old City through St. Stephen’s (or “Lion’s”) gate. We stopped at the Pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralytic (John 5). Here we also sang in the St. Anne’s Church, a Crusader Church with nearly a 10 second echo. We sounded wonderful! J
Walking out of the Jaffa Gate, we loaded back on the bus and drove to Herodium. It was here where Herod the Great was buried. We climbed this “artificial” mountain that Herod made into a fortress/palace. The view from here was great, allowing us to see the Dead Sea and the hills of Moab to the east, and Jerusalem to the north. We read from Isaiah 40 (“Prepare the way of the Lord…”) about the Judean Desert. We saw the impressive cistern system of the site as well as the place where Herod was buried. We even got a sneak peak of the monumental arches and a few frescos.
We ended the day in Bethlehem. First, we stopped at the Shepherds’ Fields where we entered a cave. We sang Christmas carols as we reflected on the truth about how “just at the right time God sent His Son…” (Gal. 4:4). Next, we visited the Church of Nativity. Although under construction, we entered and saw the traditional birthplace of Jesus. We ended the day in an olive wood shop. Many purchased beautiful olive wood pieces.
We drove back to the hotel for dinner and a free evening. Some enjoyed a short walk on the Promenade while others enjoyed ice cream and coffee at Jerusalem’s old railroad station (now a nice café and shopping area).
It was a great first day here in Jerusalem!
DAY 9– SUNDAY, MARCH 22
We plan to visit the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter, the Israel Museum, and Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial & Museum.