We began our last day with a peaceful visit to the Garden Tomb, a popular site especially for Protestants. While not a good candidate for the authentic place of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the garden is a good place to get an idea of the setting for the cross and tomb because it has been preserved as a garden. It was a relatively quiet place to reflect on what Jesus did for us and on its implications for us. We finished our visit with a service of Holy Communion together.
Our morning walk from there was the famed Via Dolorosa. We followed the stations of the cross, read Scripture along the way, and ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church houses the traditional locations of the place of crucifixion (Golgotha) and Jesus’ tomb of resurrection under one roof.
The Church is like no other, with so many religious denominations, mainly Orthodox and Catholic. This is the holiest site in the Christian world. Pilgrims from everywhere file through the church, though in a somewhat chaotic fashion. Processions of singing priests make rounds while performing their liturgies. The lighting is dim, with candles and lanterns burning around the church, and the fragrance of incense generously fills the place. It certainly captured some of the mystery of our faith for us, and we encountered a global symphony of liturgical worship as we made our way around.
After dinner in Jerusalem at Pasha (a Middle Eastern restaurant), we headed for the airport, where we are sitting now awaiting our flight back home. God has given an amazing gift of grace and blessing. This group has been an incredible fellowship of pilgrimage. Thank you, Lord!