Thursday, March 29, 2018

Even before the Garden Tomb, It Is Well With My Soul

Later, we go to The Jerusalem Prayer Center, which is now housed in Horatio Spafford’s daughter’s house. There we spend some time singing and visiting the prayer room before going to the Garden Tomb.

This is just a statue we passed. I like it. Can you guess what it represents?

Before we headed out, I was reluctant to head up to my room. The smell of burning incense is strong on that floor, overpowering even. I return to the lobby to find it’s packed with Orthodox Jews, and many of the women are pregnant. Years ago, I was told many regular Jews who work often believe that the government shouldn’t support those who choose not to work but rather study the Talmud and Scriptures. They often spend the Sabbath in fancy hotels like this one, most likely at the taxpayers' expense. 
Oftentimes, these men don’t serve in the armed forces, either. I notice the woman beside me toying with a regular key, not a key card. To use a manual key isn’t considered work. Earlier, we watched a family struggle to carry a huge stroller down the stairs, instead of taking the elevator. I’m not sure if this was related to avoiding work or not.

A young woman, a soldier, strides past us, a duffle bag slung over one shoulder, a rifle over the other. Her duty shift is over. The Sabbath almost over. Can we blame Trump for this? Since he announced that the US embassy will be moving to Jerusalem, the Muslims have called for a Day of Rage each Sabbath, so therefore, soldiers on duty at major hotels.

At the Jerusalem Prayer Center, a Baptist Center and a mere five-minute walk from our hotel, we sing ‘It Is Well With My Soul.’ After, we head upstairs to the Interactive Prayer Room, where I watch my sins dissolve in water, where I draw and colour a sketch and read special Scriptures that speak to me so much I have to write them down. I was so enthralled, I neglected to take any photos.

At the Jerusalem Prayer Center

Yossi playing It Is Well With My Soul.

Shortly after, we head over to the Garden Tomb. While we are waiting for our guide here, Yossi begins to explain about the flag, but our Garden Tomb guide arrives and we all groan. We have to wait to hear the answer.  

Waiting for our guide, before Yossi started to tell us about the flag

Here, we learn, is a place that would show a person what Golgotha might have looked like in Jesus’ time. There is only circumstantial evidence for this place being the real Garden Tomb, as the church we visited yesterday is the favourite. But it’s interesting. In Lev 1, it says a lamb must be slaughtered to the north of the altar. This Garden Tomb is to the north of the altar. Right at the Road to Damascus where the Romans could warn people not to disobey them. The signs above each cross had to be close enough to read, so the cross would have been closer to the road. But is this the real tomb of Jesus?
Does it really matter in the long term?

Golgotha, decades ago. The Place Of The Skull. Can you see the skull?

That same place today

Another view beyond the Garden Tomb. It's a bus station now, right below a Muslim graveyard.
This garden had a wine press.

One of the small plates
Inside the tomb.

Today, it’s noisy and busy and we feel rushed so it’s hard to imagine this place 2,000 years ago. Our tour is quick but we get to share in Communion and visit the tomb. 
We return to our hotel at sundown, in time to see an Orthodox rabbi in a large fur hat and gold coat stride by. I had noticed another man at the Wailing Wall, days ago, his jacket slung over his shoulders and his stance tall and confident. He’d had many people milling around him, and he was obviously important to them. This rabbi was the same. I think of God’s words to Samuel, “You look upon the outward appearance but I look upon the heart.” 
Today is our last full day here, and finally, tonight, we learn the truth about the Israeli flag.

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