Wednesday, 11 January 2012


How fascinating to visit the three key sites in Jerusalem for the three major world faiths in a single day as we did.  We went first to the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It was interesting to walk through the old City to get there, entering via the Damascus Gate.

The site is a very important site for Muslims and both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Asqa Mosque are within the same area. When we got to the area in which the two magnificent buildings are set, we had to pass through a Police check-point and were given a guide who took us and showed us round the area. It was interesting to look across to the Mount of Olives and think of all that means in Christian terms and the times when Jesus must have been there, not least in the Garden of Gethsemone at the foot of the Mount of Olives. We could see the Dominus Flevit Church, the place where Jesus wept marked by this building now. That was a clear reminder of the central importance of Jerusalem.  The Dome of the Rock is not used as a Mosque any longer but still is a place of prayer and it was very moving to see the magnificent architecture, the tremendous symbolism and to feel the presence of the prayer that has been there for so many years. It’s a special place for another faith but still has a strong spirituality and could speak of the power of God.

We walked across to look at the Al-Asqa Mosque and were again reminded of the power of God down through the ages.

Our next key visit was to the Wailing Wall, a very special place for Jews.  Because of the destruction of the Temple, the wall is all that is left but it is a powerful place of prayer. It was interesting to see people praying, wanting to touch the wall but also to see the large number of little notes, prayer notes, that had been stuck into the wall. I was pleased to be able to go into that area and to go and touch the Wall and have a moment of prayer. God is indeed a God of us all and also to go into the Synagogue that is within the male area of the Wall.

The third visit was to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, otherwise known as the Church of the Resurrection. This covers the site of Calvary and also the site of the Garden Tomb. It’s a complex place, the site of probably the earliest church in Jerusalem and yet now a place where different parts of the Christian Church vie to have control and different parts of the whole building are controlled by different factions within the Church.  Interestingly, the key is held by a Muslim who is responsible for opening the church each day. There was an interesting sense of spirituality there too - challenged by the noise, the flash of cameras, even the ringing of mobile phones.  It was interesting that such things felt more out of place in the Muslim and Jewish holy places that we had visited.  However it was moving to go to the place where the tomb was, although now decorated in such an ornate way that it would contrast strongly with any picture that might arise from the Gospels.  Still it is important to be reminded, as we were, that a church has existed on this site for so long and that was a telling reminder of the power of God down through the ages and that He will keep His church even when it is not doing what it should.

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