Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blog 7 The Lord's Day, Mt. Olivet, Gethsamane, Bethlehem

Blog 7 Lord’s Day: Mt. Olives, Gethsemane, Bethlehem

Today was a day of many things! I suppose I need to ask someone to “pinch” me just to make sure this is real. Oh, I know it is real, but each time God has blessed me to walk in the very city He has chosen as His own, it is overwhelming.

We started this day, the Lord’s Day with a worship service with Dr. David Jarrell preaching from Psalms 122. David preached a very good message on "Who, What, and Why". I cannot put into words what a special experience being able to worship our risen Savior in the very city God has placed His name and chosen for Himself is.

All of us were thinking about all of you: both our families naturally and our families spiritually. We prayed that you would have a blessed day and that your worship services would be something special.

We were ready to leave the hotel for Mt. Olivet and eventually when I discovered I could not find my passport. Not a lot of panic began in my mind and heart, but a lot of concern. After all, if I had lost my passport I would not have been the first one to do. But, prayer changes things! I found it in the very spot I had put it in so “I would not forget where I put it.” Sound familiar to anyone?

Although we did not go to Mt. Moriah today (we will go tomorrow), we did go to Mt. Olivet, the garden of Gethsemane, and the Kidron Valley. So much of what we read about in the Scripture, especially in the last week or Passion Week of Jesus, took place in these places. The first time Debbie came to Israel was 2001. When we were talking about what she learned and what surprised her, she said “It is how close things are to each other” she was referring to how close in proximity things lie in relation to each other.

Having the view from Mt. Olivet we had of Mt. Moriah (also known as the Temple Mt., the place where Abraham offered Isaac, the place David purchased from Ornan, the place Solomon built the first Temple) is breathtaking. As we stood on Olivet we read Scripture, as we do at every site visited, and sang and stood with a degree of amazement at being here. It was from this very mountain that our Lord and Savior wept over Israel’s failure to discern the times; it was from this very mountain that He gave His famous Olivet discourse (maybe it was in the same place we were standing today! wouldn’t that be something?); it was from this very mountain that our resurrected Lord ascended to Heaven; it was from this very place that two men in white apparel gave a glorious promise “This same Jesus, which is taken up from into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Wouldn’t it have been AWESOME if He had  come while we were there!?); it is here that, when He returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that His feet will touch down on Earth again. Not to die this time, but to rule and reign! How great it that!!! Glory!!!!!

Time in Gethsemane was special. Gethsemane is not one of those traditional places I refer to, Gethsemane is Gethsemane. Where Jesus prayed here, and He prayed here more than once, none of us know. But as we had some personal devotional time in this place where olives were pressed, pray and praying took on a new meaning. The night before Jesus’ crucifixion, as He prayed He agonized. Luke tells us He prayed so fervently that His “sweat became as drops of blood.” In fact, Matthew tells us that “he fell on his face.” I am told that in the Greek, the idea conveyed is that He fell and kept falling. In the place olives were pressed, so our Lord was pressed in a way none of us are familiar and in a way so holy no human eye beheld. Remember, the disciples lay sleeping not a stones cast away.

While in Gethsemane, we had a special time of worship. Yes, I know I just told you that we already had morning worship and great preaching by Pastor David, but I shared a message with our folks in Gethsemane that I pray was a blessing. Before we left that marvelous place, we took some time for private and personal reflection while in this marvelous place.

I wish I could put into words what Debbie and I experienced during our private time while in Gethsemane. Although I know I cannot describe it, I will try and I hope the picture will help. We decided to sit beside one of the small olive tress in the private area of the garden that we were allowed access to. We both took some time to pray and after we were finished, Debbie said “Look.” I did and was moved deeply as Debbie already had been moved. When I looked at what Debbie had already seen.  The way the sun was shinning, a shadow been cast from the very olive tree we were praying beside. It looked as if it were the shadow of a man with his arms stretched out and his head bowed forward and his body poised as if under great agony. I do hope you can see it, it was not difficult for either of us to. In fact, we invited all of our group to come by to see if they too could see what we saw. I believe some them did.

From this wonderful place, we made our way to Bethlehem. What an experience that was. I will not take the time to tell you about the whole experience, I will allow your loved one to tell you themselves. Israel is crowed with tourist this year which is both good and not good. Good for this wonderful nation and not good for other pilgrims that are trying to get from place to place.

We learned after arriving in Bethlehem that the Shepherd's Field were not open to us seeing that is was Sunday. The Church of the Nativity was open but was EXTREMELY crowded. It took us a great deal of time to walk though, unfortunately, to see a traditional place of what is referred to as the Grotto and the manger. For us, it is not a place we put a great deal of emphasis, but to others of other faith, it is. In fact, I am afraid too many of them actually worship the place…they acted like they did in kneeling down to kiss the spot. YUCK!

Our lunch in Bethlehem was the second best thing that we did. I guess the best thing was shopping…you could ask James to see whether or not I am right.

Anyway, it was an experience on many levels we will never forget and one which we hope we will not have again. I believe with all of my heart that the Lord ordered our steps into this place, and I am glad to say, out.

Well, so much to say and so little time and room to do so.

I suppose I had better end today’s entry here. It is impossible for me to tell you about everything I would like to tell, I just hope I have said enough for you to get some of the flavor of our day and our experience. I do hope that in some virtual way you can experience some of what of have experienced.

Dinner sounds good, but a hot shower and a little sleep in the city of Jerusalem sounds a little better to me at this point.

A new day lies ahead. I can hardly wait! But then again, these days are passing far too quickly.

God bless all of you!
Luke 13:34-35

PS It didn't take much money to get Judy out of Bethlehem, but it sure looks like it would have cost a lot.  :O)