Thursday, 18 June 2009

Pilgrimage 2009 - Mount of Olives

Luke 19:28-40
After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them,
"Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no-one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.'"
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?" They replied, "The Lord needs it."
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" "I tell you", he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
This was the starting point for our pilgrimage. We were driven to the top in an air-conditioned coach, and so were protected from the full force of the sun until we stepped down onto the pavement at the top of the hill, opposite the Chapel of the Ascension.

From this point, the end of Christ's time on earth, we turned and faced Jerusalem.

We were immediately approached by the first beggars and postcard vendors; these appeared everywhere we went. It was awkward. I didn't know whether these were genuinely needy people - whatever that means. Other people were also asking the same questions. How does one differentiate? It was a question that came back to me in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Jerusalem could be seen across the hillside, and we were shown the different parts, and some of the landmarks. We were also able to see where King David built his original city - why wasn't it on the top of the hill?
After a couple of minutes to take photos from the top of the hill

we then started on a route that I had seen on video - the 'Palm Sunday' path down the mountain. (A memory popped into my mind. Someone once told me that the Moslems refer to Palm Sunday as Donkey Sunday, because the Christians always follow the donkey down the hill. Oh how easily we misunderstand each other.)
The bright sunshine shone on the limestone and gave a bright white air to everything, and the heat of the sun blasted over our hats and sunglasses as we walked where Jesus walked - still steep, but now a well maintained road with smart walls.

Pausing at the Jewish cemetary we learned something of the ancient and modern Hebrew ideas of death, and current burial practice.

The grave is below ground, with stone above. Visitors to graves place a stone (remember the ending of the film Schindler's list); the open space you can see at the front of the memorial is for a candle.
All of the graves were within sight of the Golden Gate, now closed.

Jewish and Moslem tradition both place great emphasis on access through the Golden Gate at the end of time. Until then it remains closed. The Moslem cemetary covers the ground in front of the Golden Gate.
After a detour to the right into Dominus Flevit (separate entry), and encountering another opportunistic trader

we continued down the hill. Where the walls got higher, someone had kindly cut a viewing hole in the stones.

We passed the Russian Orthodox convent where Prince Philip's mother spent her later life, (it is behind high gates, so this photo was taken from above from Dominus Flevit garden)
and down towards the Garden of Gethsemane.

No comments:

Post a Comment