Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Cross (as in the Cross of Christ) (08/17/06)
By Lucile McKenzie
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We walked through the Gate of Damascus and entered the teeming world of old Jerusalem, where modern and ancient cultures form a complex and diverse society. In the Church of the Holy Sepulcher we saw the site of Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection. The elaborate trappings take away much of the impact. and with all the tourists it was difficult to get a sense of spiritual place. Various factions, Coptics, Eastern Orthodox, Franciscans, Armenians, and Syrians jealously guard their specific areas of authority within the church. I wondered if this was really the spot where Christ died on the cross for us. Recent archeological evidence indicates that it is. We wanted to prayerfully walk the 14 stations of the cross. Pilgrims come here to do this, some carrying crosses of their own. The sites are often posted on doorways and are hard to find. It was difficult to get into a prayerful mind set with horns blaring, vendors shouting, and soldiers patrolling, their guns very much in evidence. Archeological evidence and computer enhancement indicate the designated route is not likely the one Jesus would have walked.
Jerusalem is full of places like this. We saw a room that supposedly is the “upper room” where the Last Supper was held. However, the room was obviously built much later, probably dating from the time of the Crusades.
The Garden of Gesthemane was quiet and serene with ancient olive trees, and a church where The Lord supposedly taught the apostles The Lord’s Prayer, which is written in tile on the walls in every language. Various sites are marked, i.e. The spot where the Lord asked God if the cup could be removed, the spot of Judas’s betrayal. Again, it’s unlikely that these were the actual locations of these events. Still, seeing them does help give us a sense of connection and a feel for how it might have been in Christ’s time. In spite of all the hype, Jerusalem is a wonderful city. How sad that it is and always has been, the site of so much controversy. The Guidebook warned us, “It’s difficult to find God in the streets of Jerusalem today.” True. That’s why, since His death on the cross for us, we carry Him in our hearts.
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