Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Mount of Olives’ 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.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

View of Jerusalem

View of Jerusalem

Next stop on the Mount of Olives was at the top, at Dominus Flevit Church, where there was an impressive panoramic view of the city, and we were reminded that it would have been from here that Christ would have viewed the city on Palm Sunday, when he wept for it as he foretold of its destruction.   As you look across the Kidron Valley you see the Golden Gate, the Dome of the Rock, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.    The church, built in 1955 by Italian Architect Antonio Barluzzi, is in the shape of a tear drop.  The view from the church itself, through the window behind the alter, looks across the Kidron Valley, and takes in the Temple area, and the Old city. 

Jewish Cemetry on Mt of Olives

Jewish Cemetry on Mt of Olives

It is here, at the Kidron Valley, (also known as Johosaphat Valley, meaning – God will judge) that it is believed that the Messiah will enter the Holy City through the Golden Gate.   The Dominus Flevit church, which faces this city and the gate, is surrounded by Jewish cemeteries, and many Jews wish to be buried here in the hope that they will be judged first.  (Our guide commented: Robert Maxwell  is buried there).  However, on the opposite hill, where the city and the gate stand, are the Muslim cemeteries and our guide said this was to keep the Messiah and the people out (just as the Golden Gate was locked).   When people visit the Jewish cemeteries they leave stones on the graves to show they have been, but also because there are prayers on the graves, and if they don’t have time to say them, it shows that they echo it.

David took the area of the Kidron Valley from the Jebusites 3000 years ago, and built his own city.  He wanted to expand it, to include the Temple, but because he had blood on his hands, this fell to his son Solomon.   The first Temple stood from 923-583 BC and was destroyed by the Babylonians (Nebuchadnezzar).   The Temple was renovated and stood until 37 BC, when the Second Temple was built by Herod.  It was a bigger structure, and stood until 70 AD, when the temple and Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus, the Emperor – this fulfilled the prophecy by Jesus given at the time when he wept over the city.

The area was left until 638 AD (early Islamic period) when at small mosque was built at the Dome of the Rock area.  When the Crusaders came, they didn’t destroy it, but split it into two temples.  (Knights Templar had its headquarters at the far end of the wall, as they stayed in the area to protect Christian pilgrims).   The Dome of the Rock is still with the Muslims today, and Mount Moriah is under  the Rock.  (Mount Moriah – God sees).   This was the area that Abraham is said to have come to sacrifice Isaac.

This whole area is revered by the three monotheistic faiths – by Christians, because it is the site of Second  Temple and its link to Christ;  by Muslims because it is the site that Mohammad is said to have ascended;  by the Jews because it the site of the Temple.

Then suddenly our thoughts were brought back from the past to the present; and it was on the Mount of Olives that we celebrated Holy Communion.  We were not allowed to celebrate inside the Dominus Flevit Church itself, we had to celebrate outside, because the Franciscans would not allow anyone but a Roman Catholic to preside over the Eucharist within the building itself.   (Our tour leader was a Church of England minister).  I couldn’t help but think that Jesus would have wept again as he saw his body divided rather than united.   Speaking personally, I felt being outside was amazing;  making a public statement as we were seen by other visitors; listening to the birds and remembering that in God’s creation there is no moment of total silence; feeling the sun beat down on us as we prayed; and remembering that Jesus would have experienced those same things.  And besides, the church is always the people and never the building.   And so, in those moments, contrary to what others were trying to say, we were the church, irrespective of the building standing beside us.

Read Full Post »

Rather than beginning our tour with the many different religious sites inside the Old City, we headed to the Mount of Olives on the other side.  According to the New Testament, the Mount of Olives is a place that Jesus used as a retreat from Jerusalem.  The area is a great place to get a view of the Old City from, and you can get also get a good view of the famous golden Dome of the Rock (the place where Muhammad is supposed to have ascended to heaven from). You can also see the Golden Gate — there is a Jewish tradition that it is the gate through which the Messiah will enter the city. It was sealed off during the reign of Suleiman the Great in the 16th century, supposedly to stop the Messiah entering the city. Don’t know if that will work.   But I’m rushing ahead.

Doric

Our Father

Our first stop was at the Pater Noster Church, on the Mount of Olives.   We entered the cave/church site which was first built by Helena mother of Constantine … she found 4 sites to preserve on the instruction of her son.  The others were – Church of the Holy Sepluchre, the Great Hagia Church on Mount Zion, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  But here at the site of the Pater Noster Church was where it was thought Jesus taught his disciples to pray – Our Father (Pater Noster).  The Lord’s Prayer is displayed on ceramic tiles in many languages (over 60) including Doric (dialect of Scots spoken in North East Scotland), in nearby colonnades and walls around gardens.  

I sometimes have mixed feelings about the Lord’s Prayer – well not the prayer itself, but the different versions that are said within our churches, and how people react to them.   Although I have to admit that when we come to the time when the whole church joins voices to recite the words, my first thought if I’m visiting a church is usually – “is it sin and sinning; debts and debtors; or trespasses and those who trespass against us?”   I’ve said all three in different churches I’ve belonged to, and each has said something different to me, but all have made me feel I am connecting not only with God, but also the people around me.   But no matter the version used, this prayer speaks to us on so many different levels and reminds us of amazing truths if we actually engage with it.   It begins simply – Our Father (Pater Noster) – reminding us we are part of a family and have an intimate relationship with God.    When Jesus taught his disciples this prayer he used the Aramaic word Abba – meaning Daddy – not elaborate descriptive words of God’s other characteristics, like Creator God, or Merciful God, or Lord, but a word of such intimacy and familiarity that it had the power to shock those who first heard it.   But those words – Our Father – also hold an invitation and a promise.  They tell us that the relationship that Jesus had with God, is also the relationship that we can have with him too; we are invited to be part of the family.  So the next time I say those two simple words – Our Father – perhaps I should linger on them a little longer, thinking of the deeper truths, promises and hopes that they contain.

Read Full Post »

Greetings from Banchory and welcome to my first Blog.  Please bear with me as I try to make this part of my routine.   I have to admit that I have tried this blogging thing once before, but that was a year ago.   It was one of those – this seems like a good idea – things. Then life moved on apace, and time for personal reflection to share on-line, basically slipped.    Although blogging never really became a familiar activity for me, I feel it deserves a second attempt at making it into my routine.   Perhaps the reason for this is because I have just returned from a period of study leave in Israel and I feel I have much to reflect on, and I thought this discipline would perhaps focus my thoughts. 

The reason for the blog name kind of reflects how the time was and how the trip affected me.   Some moments were definitely mountain top experiences, (an experience so amazing, so profound – maybe even so life-changing – you’ll never forget it) while others were more akin to that Monday morning feeling, (when you feel down and despondent even when it’s a Friday).  And some moments were a mixture of both.  And when you think about it everyone’s life seems to reflect those extremes at one time or another.  The picture I chose for my header was taken from Mount Zion and is of the Mount of Olives – a definite mountain top experience for me, but the place where Jesus looked towards the city of Jerusalem, wept, and foretold its destruction (Luke 19:37-44).  But the Mount of Olives was also the place from where Jesus ascended into Heaven.  (Luke tells us in the book of Acts (1:8-12) that the disciples came down from the Mount of Olives after the Ascension).

Anyway, today was set up day, and we’ll see where it goes…

Read Full Post »