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Archive for the ‘Mount Zion’ 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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St Peter in Gallicantu is on Mount Zion.   (Galli-cantu means cock-crow in Latin).  Built on the area where tradition puts Caiaphas’ house, this would be where Jesus was imprisoned and brought to face trial after his arrest.   (One of the finds at this site were a complete set of measures that would have been used by the priests in the Temple).  The church commemorates Peter’s denial and is an amazing blend of contemporary and ancient, of light and dark; a place that is both colourful and restful.  

Dome of St Peter in Gallicantu

Dome of St Peter in Gallicantu

The dome has an extraordinary cross-shaped stained glass window and beneath the floor you can see what is left of 5th and 11th century churches, and in a lower level there are a series of carved-out chambers and dungeons from the Second Temple period.  (The time of Jesus)  If this is indeed Caiaphas’ house, it follows that Jesus may have been imprisoned in one of these very underground crypts.    On the north side of the church is an ancient staircase that you can walk down towards the Kidron Valley and across to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gathsemane.   They were certainly there at the time of Jesus, and were part of one of the main streets of the city.  Perhaps these are the very steps he and his disciples used on the night of his arrest …

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.” (Jn 18:1-3)

Having looked around the newer church, we descended to the dungeon area.  You can see the original chisel marks as the room was cut out of the natural rock of Mt Zion.   And there, after listening to the story of Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin, and Peter’s denial (Mk 14:53-72), the lights were turned out and we stood in darkness for a few moments.   Then as two lights were turned on, we found ourselves looking up towards an opening above us, with a few stairs.   It would have been from here that guards would have lowered ropes into the semi-darkness and the accused would have been hauled up to be questioned.  (Jeremiah 38 gives a description of this).    

In those moments the story of the night became very vivid … Jesus could have climbed the steps here as he was brought from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Chief Priest – Caiaphas.   Caiaphas imprisoned and interrogated Jesus here.  Peter denied Christ in the courtyard here.   The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus here, they beat him here.  As we stand in this dungeon, this pit, I am aware there is only one entrance, from above.  It is nearly twenty feet deep.  Jesus was abandoned, tormented, tortured, beaten, bleeding, weary, and in great pain.   If ever there was a time to give up, to deny who he said he was, that was it. 

Dungeon at St Peter in Gallicantu

Dungeon at St Peter in Gallicantu

The mood was quiet, contemplative and deeply moving.   And as I stood in this pit below the earth, cut into the rock of Mt Zion, it was nearly impossible to understand that kind of love; that kind of sacrifice.   A life given so that people would know that they were so loved that someone was willing to die for them, and so that when he defeated death people down through the centuries would be able echo the words of the centurion: 

Truly this was the son of God.

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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…

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