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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Out of Jerusalem and into Jordan

We spent our last day in Jerusalem walking the walls of the old city. After our International Church Association business meeting we were free for the rest of the day. We had wanted to walk the walls as we'd heard it was a very nice thing to do. We were joined by a fine group of friends and while the walk was hot and at times challenging, I was very happy we did it. It was a great way to soak in the sites of Jerusalem, seeking to imprint them on my mind. We also did some wandering around the streets of the Old City. We even found this silly Vikings shirt! The marketplaces were great fun, but the quieter streets provided more beauty to take in.
We ended our walk at the wailing wall. Pretty special to see this holy place where Jews have come to offer their prayers for so many years.

But before we landed on the walls we did visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the other place that scholars believe was the actual site of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Because a church has been built upon the site, it's hard to imagine a “hill far away” from our hymnody! And the opulent nature of the church and that fact that is swarms with tourists certainly does not lend itself to having a holy moment here. The line to see the tomb was miles long and so we decided that we really didn't need to see an empty tomb. The crucifixion site is decorated in such a gaudy manner that it's hard to enter into Christ's humility. People were bowed over the sarcophagus, laying hands upon it and kissing it. My general thought was, “Why venerate the grave? The whole point is that Christ is risen”! Still, I guess for many, touching something believed to have contained Christ's body at one time is special. Not so much for me.
I did love the artwork that was on the wall of the church as we walked in. And, I even with all of the distractions, it's still something to consider that somewhere this venerated ground, it seems likely that Jesus lived and died and rose again.

We ended the day with a wonderful dinner to close the conference. The restaurant was high above the city giving us spectacular views to enjoy once again. I'll miss these dear colleagues with whom we were so happy to re-connect.
Early this morning we left for Jordan. We had to get dropped off on the Israeli side, clear exiting Israel, go through passport control on the Jordanian side, take our luggage off the the bus we rode in from Jerusalem, walk it across the border and get into another vehicle. We'll have to do the same on the way back. The movement between the countries is not easy. But at this moment I am relaxing in my hotel room in Amman (I never thought I'd say that!), listening to some very loud music from a wedding that is nearby, excited to see Petra tomorrow. 
This trip continues to unveil one interesting thing after another. I remain humbled and thankful that this journey has been mine to enjoy.