Day 8 began at the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, where we stood among ancient remains of the Temple. The tour guide shared that Jesus and Paul would have taught and preached from these stone steps. As we stood on the “teaching steps,” we could feel the power of the Word of God proclaimed throughout the centuries. This pilgrimage was also a celebration of 22 years of ministry and annual gatherings for my “Sisters in Spirit.”
Then we made our way inside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem to walk the Via Dolorosa (The Way of the Cross), the path that Jesus walked, starting from the place of being condemned by Pilate to death. As we made our way through the crowded streets of vendors and shoppers, tourists and pilgrims, we took in the sights all around us...
The sights sometimes clashed, as seen in this picture of a simple woman selling grape leaves watched over by armed soldiers.
As we made our way through the Via Dolorosa, we stopped at each of the places where Jesus fell under the weight of the cross, and where he was helped to carry the cross by Simon of Cyrene and given comfort by women along the way. We stopped to observe a group of pilgrims carrying the cross and singing in a ritual procession.
As our faith story tells us, the story does not end at the cross, but at the grave. And as the t-shirt of one of our fellow pilgrims said: “Spoiler Alert: The tomb was empty.” And so it was. We visited the Church of the Holy Sepluchre to see the tomb where it is believed that Jesus’ body was dead and where he rose from the dead. Some believe that the resurrection occurred at a different sight, called the Garden Tomb. In the midst of a beautiful garden, there was a tomb. Inside we could see the place where the women went that first Easter and heard the angel say, “He is not here; he is risen! Go tell everyone.” From inside the tomb, I began singing “Jesus Christ is risen today. Alleluia....”. Others joined in and we went out from the tomb sharing the good news of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The path Jesus walked was long and hard. We definitely reached our 10,000 steps today! In between the stations of the cross, we rested.
Stay tuned for more from the Holy Land...