Monday, October 25, 2010

Blog 11 Gordon's Calvary, David Ben Gurion Airport

Blog 11 Gordon’s Calvary, David Ben Gurion Airport

Today begins our last day in Israel for 2010. There is both an atmosphere of sadness and excitement. We are sad that today will be saying “Good Bye” to this wonderful land, but excited about being reunited with our family and friends in just a few (tired) hours.

We are tired from the long days and the tons of information we have tried to absorb, but we are also blessed in ways that we wish you could know personally.

This was the first year that we were able to get a full night of sleep before beginning our journey home. On most of our final nights, we would be leaving our hotel for the airport somewhere between 1:00 AM or 5:00 AM.

This year, we checked out of our hotel around 1:30 PM and made our way to a place known as Gordon’s Calvary. Gordon’s Calvary is a place discovered by the famous British General Gordon: a godly man (time would be well spent in doing a little Goggle on General Gordon). This place is located just outside the walls of Jerusalem and near the Damascus Gate. In the cleft of a small mound located here it is easy to see what looks like the ‘skull’ shape of a man. If you recall, the Bible refers to the place where Jesus was crucified as the ‘place of the skull’ or ‘Golgotha’ or ‘Calvary.’ These words refer to the same places, they are just different languages, i.e. Hebrew, Latin, Greek.

When the Romans crucified someone, they did not place them one a hill, but rather they place their victims along the side of a road. The reason for this is obvious I think. So it was for Jesus when He was crucified. He suffered just outside the gate as the Bible said. Also, according to Scripture, Jesus was to be buried in a tomb that had been cut out of stone. It would have been a rich man’s tomb. Burial was to be in a place with a garden too. Again, as I have already said, no one knows the exact place Jesus came out from among, but I’m telling you, this place is remarkable in many ways that I do not believe to be coincidental!

As a part of our Via Dolorosa walk (the traditional way of the cross), we stopped to make a SHORT visit at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We do that so as to have something to compare and contrast with. Take a few minutes and ask your loved one what they thought about these two places and listen to their testimonies. The tomb that is located at Gordon’s Calvary is different than the other tomb we looked at in Nazareth and in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Ask someone that saw what the difference was. The answer is very Biblical. (Mark 16)

Time spent at Gordon’s Calvary was just wonderful. We not only walked the grounds there, but we also had the privilege to have a worship service there and share in a time of communion at the end of the service. It is also one of the most enjoyable things we do as we walk in this wonderful land.

As you might imagine, other groups from other nations visit this marvelous site at the same time and have a time of worship there as well. It is always a blessing to me to hear another group begin to sing a song that has a familiar tune to it without our being able to understand the words of another language. It is always a blessing to join in with them and sing at least a chorus in our language. The contrast is amazing but the worship is more amazing.

Dr. David preached a wonderful message out of Matthew 26 with references to 1 Corinthians 11 on the Lord’s Supper. Debbie sang one of our favorite songs she has written, “Saved ByThe Blood of The Lamb.” He told us in participating in this wonderful event we were looking back, looking within, looking ahead. Although Jesus said from the cross, “It is finished” there are many things still left to be done…and they will be, soon.

Following our service, we had the luxury of having some time to enjoy private reflection and meditation. All of us found a little spot in the garden and either read, prayed, mediated, or reflected on the events of Calvary or the personal effect of the events of Calvary. All too soon we were back on our bus headed for Mt. Zion.

Mt. Zion is just a short distance from Gordon’s Calvary, but traffic around the Old City Jerusalem was terrible. What would have normally taken ten minutes took fifty minutes and by the time we arrived at the Mt. Zion it was too late to try and visit. How disappointing! This is the second year we have been unable visit this special place, although it is a traditional place. The room that we would have visited is not the important thing, the important thing is the place and Mt. Zion is still Mt. Zion. I sure missed not hearing our group sing that grand old hymn, “Zion’s Hill.”

It was sad leaving Jerusalem, but we knew time had come to do so. And, when we remembered we were coming back to you, we were not so sad any more.

On our way to Tel Aviv and the David Ben Gurion airport, we stopped in an Arab village and ate a wonderful meal. The atmosphere and food were excellent. We had a great time as we broke bread for the last time, this time, in Israel. Dinner was good and the fellowship was even better. As I have already said, we are sad, but ready to return to our families. We have missed them, but believe me when I say they have been with us every step of the way; in our hearts and in our minds. So many times have we thought or said, I wish _________ were here!
I’ll let you fill in the blank.

Going from our bus to our departure gate and our flight home is always a little stressful especially for those who are experiencing it for the first time. With no problems, it was not long before we were all through customs, smiling from the VAT refund, waiting patiently at our departure gate, and then on board our US Air airbus headed for the good old United States of America.

As I type this, we are about three hours from Philadelphia. Most have slept at least some and others more than some. I believe I am correct when I say we are all a bit tired, but we are also very excited about seeing our families and friends once again and finding someone who is willing to listen to us tell about our life changing journey to the Holy Land.

As we travel West, we will gain all six of those hours that we so quickly lost traveling East just a few days ago. We will once again be confronted with the task of readjusting to new time and praying that our circadian will self correct NOW!!!

But, it will take a few days, or weeks….

By the way, ask anyone from our group what they thought about the high places of Israel and ask them especially about a place called Arbel. I’m sure they will tell you that these places have become the highlights of their life.

I believe I have one more blog to do before completing my goal, but don’t forget, I also have a number of pictures to be added to the blogs I have already posted. Remember, my computer was sick for about three days and that put me behind schedule. But, isn’t that what life is about in many ways? Making necessary adjustments when thing don’t go exactly as planned.

Our time in this ancient and amazing land was wonderful. We have become richer because we have been here. This is the land where thousands of years of history have been played out by the greatest people this world has ever known or known about.

Men like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Women like Deborah, Esther, and all those named Mary. And, don’t forget a man by the name of Jesus of Nazareth. He confounded lawyers and doctors of the law at age twelve. He was thought by some to be just another itinerate preacher, but proved Himself to be that prophet spoken of by Moses. He was the very Son of God, only begotten. If anyone doubts that, I can take you to a tomb that is empty…(I know I have already told you that, but I just can’t get over it.).

It is the land where eternal promises were made and keep by the God of all time and eternity. It is the land where a work was done that includes anyone and everyone that will believe. It is a land where work was done that can change minds, hearts, and eternity.

By the way, you have made plans for spending eternity in Heaven? You haven’t? Well, don’t wait another moment. Bow your head, humble your heart, admit to God that you are a sinner and then by faith trust Christ as your personal Savior. Remember, I just told you that His tomb is empty.

May I say again to the family members of our group, THANKS for your support! I cannot express just how important that has been to all of these tired but blessed pilgrims.

Until the next time….
...somewhere over the North Atlantic