This morning we walked down the street from our hotel, crossed a mote, and entered the remains of the Citadel, “Tower of David.” It was actually Herod’s Palace, and later a crusader fortress. Today it is a theater for a variety of performing arts. The area is a spectacular archaeological site, witnessing to Jerusalem’s tumultuous past. From the top you see a wide-angle vista encompassing 360 degrees of the Old City of Jerusalem and the New City. The words of the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” kept ringing in my head while here.
Next, we walked to the place that used to be the upper room. Here is where Jesus ate with his disciples and initiated the last supper. Matthew 26:26-29, “Then He (Jesus) took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Jesus used two common things, the bread and the wine, and infused them with meaning we hold dear to this day. We look forward to when we will celebrate this in the New Jerusalem.
Pastor Myoung Kwon read from Acts 2 the account of the early believers gathering in possibly the same upper room after Jesus’ death. They were in one accord praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit as Jesus had promised. Today we pray for that outpouring as well.
Then we visited Mount Zion, and saw king David’s tomb. David was the greatest of Israel’s kings, the founder of Jerusalem, and the composer of the musical Psalms. Men had to have their head covered to go in, and the women had a separate entrance and view of the tomb.
St. Peter’s Church was our next stop. The church is built on the place where, as Jesus predicted, Peter denied Christ three times. Here, when the rooster crowed, Peter was heartbroken to realized he had cowered for fear of rejection from a simple servant girl, and had actually joined in with the insults and taunting of Jesus. After that, Peter probably had profound feelings every time he heard a rooster crow. But by God’s grace, he became a bold, strong leader for the Lord. Here we sang, “Nearer My God to Thee,” before leaving.
Oscar Shindler’s grave is here, and several of our group were able to view it. He is honored for saving over a thousand Jews from death during the Holocaust.
Then we had some free time to eat, rest, shop, or walk the old city ramparts.
At 4:45 pm we met to walk down to greet the Sabbath with hundreds of Jews at the Western Wall. Jewish shops close at noon, and some are closed all day Friday in anticipation of the Sabbath hours. The joy, excitement, dancing and celebration was infectious. Youth and aged alike come together to sing, jump, read, cry, and pray as the Sabbath hours come. What am I doing on Friday evenings as the Sabbath draws near? Am I celebrating and filled with joy that God will actually come and dwell with me? Isaiah 58:13,14 says, “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Tonight we met to sing, pray, and share testimonies of spiritual lessons and insights we have gained during our time here. Shabbat Shalom!
Juanita Edge, Communication Director