Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Holy Land Tour, Part Five: Where Jesus Prayed

Eight stops in 11 hours of touring today. The Western Wall Tunnels were amazing. We heard an enlightening lecture at Bethlehem Bible College. But it is a moment at Gethsemane that I will focus on now.

In our debriefing tonight our group discussed this question: What is the difference between a pilgrim and a tourist? Of course, pilgrims seek to get in touch with their faith in some way through a particular journey. Tourists tend to be more focused on rest, relaxation, and having a good time.

On a journey like this, weaving back hang forth between tourist and pilgrim is unavoidable. On the one hand we visit holy sites and we have devotionals at some of those locations each day. On the other hand, we visit the gift shops and we take photos like any tourists.

Today at Gethsemane there was a moment when tourist and pilgrim were mingled in me in a pretty good way, I think. Jesus, of course, prayed in Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives on the night that he was arrested. But, as Karen Pruette, a Campbell Divinity School student, noted in a devotional that she led on the Mount of Olives, Luke 22:39-40 tells us that it was Jesus' custom to go to the Mount of Olives. He must have prayed there often.

We visited a church on the Mount of Olives and beside that church are some olive trees that are 2,000 years old.  The place was crowded with tourists/pilgrims. There was a noisy street and there were street vendors haggling over prices nearby. It was not the ideal setting to ponder a spot where Jesus was known to pray. But I had a 'moment' anyway.

There I was, on or near a spot at which Jesus made it his custom to pray--probably among the very same trees still standing on that location. He wasn't there physically today but I sensed his presence just the same even amid the hustle and bustle.

I started taking pictures of those trees (see one below). I plan to have one or two of those photos enlarged and placed in a few locations that I have in mind. I want to be reminded of the moment. I also want to be reminded that Jesus made it his custom to get away and pray so I had better do the same.

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