A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Budwenzel

The last day - Day 8

No words to describe the experience!

Our final day in Israel proved to be very moving. There were lots of times of sharing, many tears, and true worship. This is why we come here!

We started out the day by visiting Lithostrotus which is the place where He was judged by Pilate. It contains a prisoner holding section showing evidence of some very cruel treatment for prisoners. Those who receive the sentence of death (Like Jesus) were the object of particularly grotesque physical and emotional abuse. We also got to stand, sit, or kneel on the actual Roman road that Jesus walked on from the place of beating to the Cross. Many of our group were broken beyond description.
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Our next stop after a long quiet walk was at the Pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralyzed man telling him to, “pick up your bed and walk”. We took some time to talk about healing and restoration. Each of us had the chance to pray and identify areas on our own lives that need to be brought into the truth of our restored identity in Christ. Many times we hold on to areas that are stuck in the fear or bitterness of our past – even though Jesus has healed and restored us completely. Having just seen the place where He chose to take our judgement willingly, we were compelled to bring it all into the light. We then visited St. Anne’s Church at the same location. This church has the most amazing natural acoustics. The most famous and talented singers from all over the world come to Israel to sing in this church. My good friend Mark Howard blessed us with his beautiful voice, and we all sang together in a time of worship. It was amazing!
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Next, we went on a visit to the Israel Museum where we studied a large scaled model of the Ancient city of Jerusalem. This helped the group to get a grasp of the layout and all the places we have been to visit and study. This museum also houses an incredible display of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Finally, we ended our journey with the last stop. We visited the Garden Tomb which is a very likely candidate for the actual (if not very similar) site of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Each person had the chance to walk inside an ancient rich man’s tomb to see exactly what it was like. The skull shaped Rock backdrop, the location outside the city wall, being alongside the main roadway, the signs of an ancient garden, and one of only a few wealthy man’s tomb all add to the evidence of this being the place. We ended our tour of the Garden Tomb area with communion and singing songs of praise and worship proclaiming a living and risen savior.
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Everyone had a time to share their impressions and talk about what they had learned on the trip. It was so cool to hear everyone sharing about real and authentic experiences throughout the journey. There has been some real change in the hearts of these people. The most repeated statement all afternoon was, "there are no words to explain what I am feeling and what I have experienced".

Posted by Budwenzel 12:10 Comments (0)

The Birthplace of the Church - Day 7

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Day seven began with an unexpected long walk. Do to the final day of Ramadan, most of the streets surrounding the old city and Temple Mount were closed. So, we enjoyed a nice leisurely walk through areas we would have not otherwise seen. Finally arriving at our first site, we explored the area of the Southwest corner of the Western wall. This site has revealed many remarkable finds including proof of Israel’s early kingdom presence. An ancient temple display and informative video helped us to understand Jewish temple worship. We left feeling we could identify with the early pilgrims who came full of excitement to sacrifice, worship, and serve God. Moving slightly Southward, we ended up on the Southern steps to the temple.90_933CB616BD51AE6A1A76D97786990A90.jpg933A5971CAA2B607B4D7F6B1335B1AD6.jpg

The Southern steps provided a wonderful place for us to sit down and meditate on the significance of this site as the birth place of the church. First, we celebrated James and Laura’s 20th anniversary and vow renewal. It was so awesome to join them in remembering all the Lord has done in their marriage. Then, we read through Acts 2 and learned that the birth of the church was actually a fulfillment of Pentecost (the Jewish Holiday). It fulfilled the law being given to God’s people by coming into our hearts 3,000 killed when it came on tablets/3,000 saved when it came in the Spirit). It fulfilled displaying God’s love by filling us with the Holy Spirit (corner of the fields left for gleaning under the law/sharing all they had as New Testament believers). It fulfilled becoming God’s witnesses by giving them understanding of languages. Then, we saw how 3,000 souls could have so easily been baptized as there were 54 Mikva’ot uncovered just below the stairs. These cleansing pools were used for early temple ritual baths. 933F6FC1D34F5C54C444B361E9A8A6ED.jpg90_9342347C972B85FD5003DDC63CFFB627.jpg

Our next stop was slightly more somber. We visited Caiaphas’ house where Jesus was brought to face the High Priest after being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Caiaphas was the High Priest who sought to kill Jesus. We spent some time in a deep dark dungeoun pit that would have housed prisoners waiting for judgement. Reading Psalm 88 as prophetic of the savior was so incredibly moving for us all. Then, we sang a great old Hymn proclaiming that he arose from the grave. It echoed magnificently in the small deep dungeon giving us all chills.
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The rest of the day was spend eating and wandering in the Jewish and Christian Quarters of the Old City. We even returned to the hotel early to give everyone some much earned rest. Tomorrow is the last day of our Israel journey. It all ends in the Garden tomb where we think Jesus would have been buried…and resurrected!

Posted by Budwenzel 21:31 Comments (0)

All along the Western Wall - Day 6

Our group is so awesome! They all woke up ready to explore and learn. The Western wall was our first stop just inside the Old Jerusalem city gate. After making our way through Israeli security, we weaved in and out of varying Bar-Mitzvah celebrations to get to the actual wall. I think everyone was deeply moved by seeing such reverence and undying devotion to the idea of the presence of God. We prayed special prayers, and some even rolled up pieces of paper with their prayers on them and inserted them in the cracks of the wall.
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Moving North and below ground, our pilgrims went on an extensive tour of the Rabbi’s tunnel. We saw the most amazing archaeological finds from many eras. There were remains from as far back as the second temple life! We are talking over 2,000 years old. Seeing how the temple built helped many to understand its’ significance. We also walked right by a secret sealed entrance along the West wall that leads to underground rooms beneath the temple mount. This is a possible site for the missing Ark of the Covenant. Wow!
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A long walk through the old city revealed a section of Nehemiah’s wall, Hasmonean period walkways, crusader structures, modern Jewish life, and children playing in the streets. We had a private and personal appointment with a Jewish Rabbi shop owner to discuss the differences and commonalities between our two faiths. Pizza for lunch, and ice cream (I abstained for reasons of personal weight).
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The day ended with an in-depth tour of the old city of David. This is an ancient city located on the Southern slope just below the temple mount. It showed portions of King David’s palace, the coronation site of His son Solomon, and Hezekiah’s tunnel. The fearless and adventurous walked through the long, dark, and very wet live section of this tunnel.
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Posted by Budwenzel 12:25 Comments (0)

Desert Treasures - Day 5

Today was an adventure out into the desert. We started off with an extensive tour of Masada. Here we listened to our tour guide narrate one of the most dramatic stories of Jewish heritage and identity. We all sat literally on the edge our seats hanging on every word. Our group received another special treat when we found a Rabbi Scribe in a special room of the Synagogue on top of Masada. He was carefully penning the words of a copy of the Torah. He took a break from his dutiful work to write for each of us our own names in Hebrew on a little memento of our trip.
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Next, we were off to En Gedi to see the context of many of King David’s own writings. We hiked up to see the springs and rock clefts that were certainly the backdrop of many of the Psalms he wrote. It showed us the depth of meaning when the Bible refers to the shadow of the rock or the protection of the rock. It also gave us further understanding when David wrote about thirsting for God like water in a dry land. We saw how refreshing and life giving God desires to be for us.
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The next desert stop was Qumran, which is the site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We saw many features of the Essene community and viewed many of the caves from up close. This was also a great place to grab an ice cream to cool off in the extreme desert heat.

The day ended by some of our brave and adventurous travelers taking a float in the Dead Sea. We all enjoyed some time at the lowest spot on the entire planet. The one’s who frolicked in the salty Sea and its’ therapeutic mud came out looking years younger (kinda).
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This is a good time to point out that at this point in the trip we are starting to experience some goofiness from many in our group. It is so fun to watch the relationships strengthen as each person begins to feel more themselves in the company of the others. Our pilgrimage together so far has resulted in sharing a bond that is spiritual and meaningful. It is one of my favorite parts of these Israel tours.

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Posted by Budwenzel 12:00 Comments (0)

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