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Posts Tagged ‘The Holy Land’

pilgimage to the holy land, part two

by Blake Robinson

April 10th, 2011    7 Comments     Add Comment
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Caesarea

This is part two of our pilgrimage to The Holy Land. If you missed part one, see it here.

Ceasarea was a seaport built by Herod on the Mediterranean Sea, also used for one of his many palaces.

Aqueduct at Caesarea

Here’s the Aqueduct at Caesarea. It’s amazing to see the size and scale of these structures and realize they are 2000 years old. Herod named the seaport to honor his boss, Emperor Caesar; Herod was a crafty politician for sure.

Sea of Galilee boat

We took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Many of the Gospel stories about Jesus and his disciples took place on and around boats on this lake.  I didn’t notice this small bird on the bow of the boat until I uploaded the image to the blog page.

The Wall, from the Palestinian Side

The Israeli government has been building a wall, roughly going along the border between Israel and the occupied West Bank, according to the “green line” agreed to in the Oslo Accords of 1992. But in some places the wall zigzags into the West Bank, to encompass Israeli settlements, for example. We learned that the wall has made life extremely difficult for many Palestinians, cutting through neighborhoods or separating farmers from their fields. Pictured here is a section of the Wall in Jerusalem. You can see the barbed wire on the top of the massive wall, and the watchtower on the right. There’s a lot of anger and frustration expressed in the graffiti on the wall. I’m not sure what this white creature represents, perhaps the mean Israeli separating one Palestinian from his family or friends. 

child at the Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children, Mount of Olives

The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem – yes, there are a few Episcopal or Anglican churches in Israel – supports many schools and health clinics.  We visited, on the Mount of Olives,  a school for disabled children. One of the charming young girls we met is pictured above.

The Jordan River

We spent part of a beautiful morning at the Jordan River, upstream a few miles from the place where Jesus is remembered to have been baptized. Our group renewed their baptismal vows and we were sprinkled with holy water from the river, from olive branches shaken over our heads. Many denominations would go for full immersion, but we Episcopalians are a bit timid  and tentative about these things.

As mentioned in my first post, we stayed in Nazareth at The Sisters of Nazareth Convent. It is unknown where Joseph, Mary and Jesus lived in Nazareth, but it was a small town at that time, with perhaps only 500 residents. So, we were likely very close to the home of The Holy Family. In the courtyard of the convent, there is a statue of the family. Here’s a detail of that statue. I love the expression on Jesus’ face, and the way in Mary holds one hand and Joseph holds the other arm.

If you have an opportunity to go to The Holy Land, don’t pass it up. It could change you life.

You can see more pictures, videos and articles by other members of our group here.

pilgrimage to the holy land

by Blake Robinson

April 7th, 2011    7 Comments     Add Comment
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The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

I’ve just returned from a two-week trip to The Holy Land with a group from my church. This was an exhilerating, inspiring, exhausting and life-changing experience. Rather than try to put it all into perspective, I wanted to just share a few images from the trip.

The Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem, is a sacred place to  Muslims, Christians and Jews.  It is built over the site remembered as the place where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac. This is also remembered as the place where the Prophet Mohammed took his final steps on earth. We visited on a rainy, dreary day, but the bright colors of the building still shone through vividly.

Young Boy prays at the Western Wall

Just steps from The Dome of the Rock is the Western Wall, formerly called The Wailing Wall. The wall is part of the Second Temple, which was destoyed in 70 AD, and Jews (and others) come to pray here.  There are separate areas for men and women to pray. Many people will put prayer notes on pieces of paper in the crevices of the wall. I did as well.

1st Century Rolling Stone Tomb

In Nazareth, we stayed at The Sisters of Nazareth Convent.  Some years ago, excavations were made below the convent, and a 1st century home and tomb were discovered. This tomb is exactly the same design as the one that Jesus was buried in, in Jerusalem. (That tomb has not been discovered.)  The body is prepared for burial in the main chamber, then placed in one of the niches visible beyond, and the niche is sealed up.

Icon from a Greek Orthodox Monastery, Zababdeh

In Zababdeh, in the occupied West Bank, we visited a monastery that sits over Jacob’s Well, where Jesus met the Samarian woman. We walked down to the well, in the basement of the church, pulled up a bucket of water and drank from it. This was just one of many very tangible experiences of connections to stories that are so familiar to us all.

Camel in the Judean Desert

Not much more to say on this one!

Judean desert, overlooking to Old Roman Road from Jericho to Jerusalem

We spent some time in quiet reflection on a bluff overlooking the Judean desert.  This is the Wadi Qelt (Wadi meaning a dried-up river bed) and it was the main route between Jericho and Jerusalem, traveled many times by Jesus  and his disciples.

Mosaic at Sepphoris

We visited Sepphoris/Shefaamr, which was a center of Roman administration during the First Century AD.  There were beautiful mosaics, such as the one shown here, that displayed amazing color, despite being 2000 years old.

Bas Relief in the Garden of Gethsemane

We visited a church at the Garden of Gethsemane.   This bas-relief on the wall of the garden caught my attention because of the expressive faces. In the garden, there were olive trees with root structures going back to the time of Christ.

Mount of Beatitudes

In the northern part of Israel, in Galilee, we had a beautiful Spring day walking on the Mount of Beatitudes, overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  This is where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. We read the sermon and shared the Eucharist, one of the very moving experiences for our group.

Rainbow over the Desert

This shot was taken from the Mount of Olives, looking over the Judean Desert. This is likely the area Jesus went for his 40 days and 40 nights in the desert.

On our trip, we learned about events from Biblical times, but also experienced what is happening in Israel and the West Bank today. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is terribly complicated and well-entrenched.  Somehow, I want to hold onto the hope that peace is possible in this very special land. And this rainbow was sign of hope for me.

See part two of our pilgrimage to The Holy Land here.

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