We arrived in Jerusalem yesterday after a long journey from the north, stopping at several places along the way. We began the day at the Mount of Beatitudes, with its small church, beautiful garden, and magnificent vista over the Sea of Galilee. It is one of my favorite spots in the entire country --- blessings do indeed seem rich in that place, so I can understand how Jesus lavished them upon the poor, mourning, meek, etc.
We also stopped at Beit Shean, mentioned in the Old Testament in several places, and one of the largest archeological sites in the country. Some of us were regaled by Dianne Randolph quoting from Macbeth at the center of the large Roman theater.
We began today with English worship at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. I enjoyed the worship, and especially meeting the people during the coffee hour afterwards. That service is rather a hub for foreign Christians who work with various NGOs, and although there was no one there that I knew personally, I was quickly able to make connections, and our group will be meeting with some of them tomorrow.
Sabeel, a Palestinian Christian ecumenical organization that has relations with all the historic churches of the Holy Land, is sponsoring a special worship service tomorrow to bring attention to the people in Gaza suffering from the blockade. Some of us plan to attend. I am looking forward to it.
We spend tomorrow on the Mount of Olives. In the morning we will meet a few people there and hear about their work, and in the afternoon we will walk down it, stopping at the various churches along the way.
Jerusalem is probably my favorite city in the world. It is a maze of winding paths, stories upon stories, diverse people from around the world rubbing shoulders with each other. In addition, having been here so many times, the streets and shops begin to acquire their own associations for me. I have spent some good times here, and I pray that this time will be one of them.
Peace, Shalom, Salaam,