Monday in and around Jerusalem

On Monday our first visit was to the Wailing Wall, or the western wall as it is also called. This is all that remains of the Jewish temple which stood in the time of Jesus. Today it is one of the most holy Jewish sites. And above it on the Temple Mount are two of the most holy Muslim sites.

It seems incredible to me, that we would be allowed to draw close to what for the Jews is their most holy place. But what was also clear is that they are “a people of the book”. There were books of the law readily available for people to use for prayer(Assuming you could read Hebrew).

From there we got on the coach and drove out to Bethany where we thought about this place of friendship and hospitality. The home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

After that we visited the Princess Basma hospital. A hospital of excellence which caters for the needs of children With disabilities and is run by the diocese of Jerusalem.www.basma-centre.org.

We were given a tour around the kindergarten, the workshops, the physiotherapy and Aqua therapy rooms and met some of the staff in this wonderful institution. Here is a photograph of the director Ibrahim giving us his welcome.

In the afternoon we did a walk up Mount Zion: we began at Saint Peter’s in Gallicantu. A likely the site of the high priests house so the location of Peters betrayal and his trial before Caiphas. It was a solemn moment to stand together in the pit beside the dungeons and read Psalm 88.

In the gardens and not far from the courtyard, we held a service. From there we went Further up Mount Zion to the traditional site of the upper room. From there it was only a short walk to Dormition Abbey, the church where the ‘falling asleep’ of Mary is recalled.

It was at this point that Bishop John blessed a set of holding crosses which each of us took up in readiness for walking the way of the cross early the next morning.

On return to our hotel we were met by George from Via Emmaus who came to speak to us about life in Gaza.

Most of us opted for an early night after supper as the alarm call was set for 5 am!

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