Dear wonderful friends and family: Thanks for taking this journey with me. I arrived safely is Jerusalem two nights ago after a long trip from Boston Logan to Istanbul to Tel Aviv. It wouldn’t be a complete trip from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem without taking a taxi with a driver who doesn’t seem to bother with lanes, speed limits, or how many phones he’s talking on at a time. We stayed at the Notre Dame the first night since the Gloria Hotel (where I am currently writing from) was filled. Let’s just say it was so nice that there is no way I would be able to stay there on a typical vacation of mine.
In the morning we met up with our fellow students at JUC before heading out for a tour of portions of the Old City–including a visit to the Wailing Wall (which is along the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.) I must confess I was pretty out of it most of the time since I didn’t sleep much on the planes or at the Notre Dame since I wasn’t feeling well. It will be nice on free days to go back and take time to absorb what it felt like we ran past the first day.
In the short span of two days, we’ve already had 8 hours of lectures, but they are always fascinating since they are talking by the masterful Dr. Elaine Phillips. Even though I have had her as instructor for the past 8 months, I feel like I’m just getting a glimpse of the true unfiltered, constantly witty, and unrelentingly sassy Elaine Phillips.
For each of our field days, we are required to write impression reports—reflections including some material from the lectures and integrating biblical passages. I figured that since I have to write them up anyway that I will post them here! I’ll probably do that every few days, so keep your eyes out! Now for today’s adventures…
Today, day two in Jerusalem, was spent walking around the southern portion of the wall around the Old City going down from what is now known as Mount Zion into the Tyropean Valley to get to the Jerusalem Archaeological Park and Davidson Center. The Center itself (along with the blessed air conditioning) contained a lot of fascinating currency from throughout the ANE region. The topographical model was very helpful for understanding the Temple Mount in the context of the valleys and hills. After that we headed over to the steps on the southern wall which had remnants of the arches where there were gateways to exit the Temple. The stairs seemed so typical of Jerusalem that it seems strange to think that the Mighty God walked on them. Rather than basking in the glory of it, it brought a degree of Jesus’ humanity that I never realized. Visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, it appears as though people get stuck on only part of Jesus—his divinity and majesty—but He was equally human. I wish we had taken a moment to sing on the steps (whether or not that’s what they were built for.) When Dr. Phillips told us the south-west corner was likely where Satan, Matthew 4 came to life. What a picture that makes of Jesus being goaded to throw Himself off the corner of the Temple. I can just imagine Him having a sassy Scripture-off with Satan and completely winning.
Up to this point, I had not really had an emotional reaction to the sites. Going into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher changed that. I was immediately hit with a wave of emotions. There is a definite holiness in the space but it is weighed down with the heaviness of the division of the denominations within the church. It doesn’t make sense to me those following Christ, the Prince of Peace, would be divided so intensely. As someone with fairly loose doctrine in that I try to keep an open mind, it is hard to understand why Christians would be so defined in their doctrines. The division brought me to tears. I suppose it is a perfect illustration of the overall religious conflict in Jerusalem and beyond.