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Archive for the ‘Israel Museum’ Category

I had an operation on my wrist last week, and find that the restricted movement that has been imposed upon me for the next 10 days means I’m looking for things I can do without causing too much pain. I decided video editing was a safe thing to do – use one hand, point and click. Okay there have been a few moments when I’ve forgotten and tried to hold a button down, but the sharp pain up my arm reminds me it’s not the thing to do! Anyway, I’ve put together a short video of my trip to Israel and include it here to give you a flavour not only of the trip, but also of the sights and sounds of land.

 

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For many people a visit to the Holy Land becomes a sort of “fifth gospel”.   For me, it became a lens though which to read the pages of the written Gospels and I am stunned at how much clearer they have become.    I am now in the process of making inquiries about organising and leading a 10 day Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in October 2010.   I feel that, if at all possible, people should take the chance to visit if they can;  there is so much to see, hear, learn, experience and share.

Model of Jerusalem on eve of destruction 70 AD

Model of Jerusalem on eve of destruction 70 AD

Blogs, books, photos and presentations can certainly peak our attention, but nothing beats the personal experience.   A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is more than pious tourism and few, but the cynical, would see it as a “Christian Disneyland”.  Indeed I found it to give me an awareness not only of the past, but also the present.  

I became aware that the Holy Land was an amazing experience of spirituality, education, and culture.

I became aware that forgiveness and compassion are desperately needed not only between individuals, but also countries. 

I became aware of the awesome responsibility that we carry and the fact that as Christians walk this earth, peace ought to follow.

I became aware that the Holy Land was a place where the scriptures came alive.

So if anyone is interested in joining me on this adventure then please get in touch.      

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Next on the agenda was a visit to the Church of St John the Baptist at Ein Kerem. “Ein Kerem” translates to “the spring of the vineyard,” and is a small village south-west of Jerusalem.   The main feature of the church is the Grotto of the Benedictus, which is said to be part of the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth and the birthplace of John.  The thing that struck me most about the interior of the church was the many blue tiles on the walls – they kind of reminded me of delftware.   Like so many churches in the Holy Land, this one is built on top of the remains and foundations of significantly older Byzantine and Crusader churches.  The Benedictus (the song of Zechariah found in Luke 1:68–79) is displayed on ceramic tiles in 24 languages on the walls around gardens.   Its name comes from its first words in Latin (Benedictus Dominus Deus Israhel, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel”.

The Israel Museum was our next stop where there is a large and impressive model of Jerusalem.  Our guide Shafiq told us to think of it as Jerusalem on the eve of its destruction 70 AD.  

Book of the Shrine

Book of the Shrine

This is also where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed, in the Shrine of the Book; a distinctive building the roof of which was designed to resemble the jar covers in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947, however, it is usually described as the building with the onion-shaped top.   (I’m sure the architects must be chuffed!)   Directly beneath the dome is an imposing showcase (shaped like a wooden Torah rod) containing a replica of the Isaiah Scroll (written c. 100 BC), comprised of 66 chapters on a 7 m (23 ft) long, sewn-together piece of parchment.  Apart from the scrolls there are also various religious objects from Jewish communities throughout the world, as well as the 10th-century Aleppo Codex, which is the oldest complete Bible in Hebrew.   There was much more to see, but alas not enough time – our lunch slot was booked.

After lunch we drove to Bethany where we visited the Church of St Lazarus, which stands among the ruins of three earlier churches.   We did not have time to visit the tomb, which is further along the road and accessed via steps down to a shaft, as we had arranged to visit some nearby children’s homes.   As I said before, these visits to see the people of the area, had a big impact, and in effect dominated my memory of the day.   (See blog entry for 23rd June).

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