And the world didn’t stop

Following the success of the film ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ a poem by W H Auden became very popular. It’s called ‘Stop all the clocks’.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Today, the last day of the course with the clergy from Zimbabwe, Southwark and Rochester and my last full day in Jerusalem after these six glorious weeks, we were centring on the passion and death of the Lord.  The visits weren’t going to take place until the afternoon and so the morning began with a briefing about what we would see at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

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The bell tower of the church as evening fell

 

The title of that church is interesting to think about.  In the west we call it the ‘Church of the Holy Sepulchre’, in the east they call it the Anastasis, the ‘Church of the Resurrection’. Why is it that in the west we focus on the death, the humanity of Jesus, the sacrifice whereas in the east they focus on the resurrection, the divinity of Jesus? Perhaps it is part of the same reasoning that leads us in the west to celebrate Christmas on 25 December remembering the physical birth whereas the eastern church celebrates it on the 6 January, the Epiphany, when the manifestation of Christ’s divine nature is made known to the world.

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The plan of the 4th century church

 

The church – call it what you will – of course contains both elements in that enshrines Golgotha and the empty tomb.  The church built in the Byzantine period emphasised this dual role in the very architecture and shape of the building, with its basilica and rotunda, separated.  Now pilgrims encounter the jumble of the building from the Crusader period – and what a jumble it was this afternoon.  It was like a living out of the Book of Revelations!

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7.9)

It was amazing to see so many crowding into this ancient space to meet with the crucified and risen one.

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A multitude no one could number

 

In the briefing this morning as we thought about the crucifixion the point was made that for Jerusalem on that Friday the day went on.  Life didn’t stop.  Jesus was not the only one being crucified.  There were others as well.  In a sense he was nothing special to most people – just another northerner claiming he was the Messiah. Life went on.  There was a festival to get ready for and money to be made and the peace to be kept. So the clocks didn’t stop, the dogs still barked.

A group of us decided to walk the Stations of the Cross. It was an amazing experience as we remembered what happened at each of those stations, as we heard the scriptures and prayed and sang in the streets that were buzzing with activity, as we passed the soldiers eager to keep the peace, as people got ready for whatever was coming up in their lives, in their faith community, as people tried to make some money.

The death that Auden wrote about seemed to bring life to an end.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

But as we concluded the Stations on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Church of the Resurrection, we knew that all was well, that death was defeated, that life was restored, that the Second Adam restored what the first Adam lost. The world didn’t stop, but something restarted – and that was life.

Jesus, crucified, risen,
my saviour,
my all,
you are my way,
you are my truth,
you are my life.
Amen.

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Dirty water

Every morning as I open my bedroom curtains at the Deanery in Southwark I look out on one of the iconic rivers of the world – the River Thames. William Wordsworth was in London and wrote a sonnet after looking at the river. ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802’ is a beautiful evocation of the river at that time.

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Westminster Bridge by Joseph Nicholls

 

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty;
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

T S Eliot saw it differently in his poem ‘The Wasteland’ written 120 years later.

The river’s tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

But the Thames is only one iconic river that has inspired poets and painters and people. The Nile, not just for an Agatha Christi murder, but for the romance of a river so long and rich and lined with history. The Tiber, the Rubicon, the Ganges, the Mississippi – the world is crisscrossed with rivers that are carriers of history.

Today we headed out of Jerusalem and into the beauty of the Judean Wilderness, that stretch of barren and rocky land that marks the descent from the city to the valley in which one of the most important rivers flows – the Jordan.

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The severe beauty of the Judean Wilderness

 

To mention the name brings hymns to mind, characters to mind, Old and New Testament figures and events. It’s a river that forms a modern political boundary between Jordan and Israel, a river that was a boundary in biblical Israel, a fording place for returning exiles, the place of baptism, the place of John the Baptist and Jesus.

The religious imagination works overtime as we imagine the Jordan and all it represents in the story of our faith. The African-American Spiritual ‘Deep River’ first mentioned in print in 1876, sung in the movie version of ‘Showboat’, made famous by Paul Robeson, is the archetypal expression of faith and hope connected to this river sung by people looking for their own exodus.

Deep river, my home is over Jordan,
Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into campground.
Oh, don’t you want to go to that gospel feast,
That promised land where all is peace?
Oh don’t you want to go to that promised land,
That land where all is peace?
Deep river, my home is over Jordan,
Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into campground.

So when you arrive at the Jordan River east of the ancient city of Jericho it can be a bit of a disappointment.  The river is narrower than in the imagination, shallower, slower and dirtier. This can’t be the river that we have been talking and singing about! But it is!

The water extraction policies of both Israel and Jordan have removed a great deal of water which would naturally flow down the river and feed the now shrinking Dead Sea beyond. But to be honest it has never been an impressive river.

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You may have had this one

 

When I was a child I had a Ladybird Book called ‘Naaman and the Little Maid’.  It told the story of Naaman. It was one of my Sunday School prizes. The story is told in 2 Kings 5. It begins by setting the scene

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favour with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. (2 Kings 5.1)

His wife’s servant girl (the Little Maid of the Ladybird Book) was an Israelite who had been captured in a raid.  She told her mistress that there was a prophet, Elisha, in Israel who could heal her Master. So Naaman gets permission to go and find the prophet and ask for healing.  The Prophet asks him to bathe seven times in the Jordan.  When Naaman hears this he’s furious.

Naaman became angry and went away, saying, ‘I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?’ (2 Kings 5.11-12)

As we looked into the waters of the river today where we had come to renew our baptismal promises you knew what he meant.  But in the end he was persuaded to do as the prophet said and was healed.  We renewed our promises and some entered the water and were spiritually and physically refreshed.

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The Jordan today

 

Not everything is as we sometimes imagine it to be and we can be disappointed when our religious imagination has run away with itself. But into this water Jesus entered and

‘a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ (Mark 1.11)

God can work through the dirty water of life even through the dirty and often disappointing water of my life and bring me, bring you, to the Promised Land and that perfect river that flows through the city.

Almighty God,
we thank you for our fellowship in the household of faith
with all who have been baptized in your name.
Keep us faithful to our baptism,
and so make us ready for that day
when the whole creation
shall be made perfect in your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

The Noble Sanctuary

My dad was very good at bricklaying and when we were younger and the family was expanding he would build an extension here and there to the house to make sure that it was big enough to provide a good home for us. I remember him digging the footings and laying the damp course before the cavity wall began to rise and gave shape to whatever it was he was building, an extension to the living room, a utility room, an office, an extra loo. The walls he built helped to create a home.

Today was a very special day.  Earlier in these six weeks I visited the Temple Mount and I again visited it with the Caterham Team Pilgrimage.  On both occasions we entered by the tourist route and through the Morocco Gate. On each occasion it was wonderful and a privilege to be up there. But, as a result of the excellent relationship and the trust that has been built up between St George’s College and the Waqf, the Islamic trust with the care of the holy sites and more besides, today we were to be allowed into the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third most holy site for Muslims, and the Dome of the Rock.

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The interior of the dome of the al-Aqsa Mosque

 

Before the Second Intifada, known as the al-Aqsa Intifada, which began in September 2000, partially provoked by the visit of Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount, pilgrims were allowed to go into both the Mosque and the Dome. Since then we haven’t been able to except by invitation of the Waqf, and that is a rare privilege.

So we entered not by the tourist gate but by the gate for honoured guests which is by the Lion (St Stephen’s) Gate.  The women in our group were modestly dressed and we were all on our very best behaviour as befits guests. Instead of calling it the Temple Mount we called it by its proper name ‘Haram al-Sharif’ which means ‘The Noble Sanctuary’.

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We were modestly dressed

 

This is a perfect name for this most wonderful place.  We were led by an Islamic guide who told us something that I had never realised, that the whole site is the mosque not just what we call the Mosque.  The whole site is holy, the Dome of the Rock is but one of the domes in the mosque and in fact every where you look there are domes large and small.  And for Friday prayers and other holy days the men pray in the Mosque and around it, the women pray in the Dome and around it but that they are all in the mosque.

The whole place has a nobility that I always find in Islamic architecture. The symmetry, the colours, the harmonious style is calming. There is water and it reminds me of the opening of the poem by Philip Larkin ‘Water’

If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

In the al-Aqsa there are rich carpets and gilding, fine windows and mosaics. It is the same in the Dome of the Rock.

Yet what is so special for us is the rock beneath the golden dome. We went beneath it into the cave. This rock is the summit of Mount Moriah, the rest of the hill lost in the level platform that was constructed around it by Solomon and then most spectacularly in the 1st century BC by Herod. It is a monumental piece of civil engineering. But the summit of the mount is there, plain rock, for all to see.

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Beneath the rock

 

Here Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac (or Ishmael according to the Quran); here was the threshing floor of Araunah (Ornan) the Jebusite, purchased by David; here the Ark of the Covenant rested; here Solomon built the Temple as we are told in 2 Chronicles

Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had designated, on the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. (2 Chronicles 3.1)

From here the Israelites left as slaves; to here they returned from exile in Babylon. Here Herod built the Second Temple and to here Jesus came.  He wouldn’t have seen the rock as we did.  That was in the Holy of Holies (so we believe) and only the High Priest could enter that, and only once a year. But into this Noble Sanctuary Jesus walked.

The whole Temple site was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans and the place remained empty, a dump. But from this rock in around the year 621 the Prophet Muhammed, led by Gabriel, journeyed by night into heaven and was instructed by God, returning to then instruct his followers.

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A majestic sight

 

This rock has a nobility for us all, Jews and Christians and Muslims and as we stood in the cave beneath it the sense of this being a true holy place was tangible.

Later in the day we stood on the steps beneath the south wall of the Temple.  Up these steps from the Ophel the pilgrims would come and Jesus and his disciples came, to enter the sanctuary of God. But if you look from the steps, across the City of David to the village of Silwan and beyond, you see the Israeli Security Barrier, the wall that has been erected to keep the Palestinians out of Israel. Not every wall creates a home, not every wall defines a noble sanctuary. Some walls that we build are an affront to humanity.

Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989
The fall of the Berlin Wall

 

27 years ago today, 9 November, the wall that had divided Berlin began to come down. Construction of the wall had begun on 13 August 1961 and it took until 1989 for the thawing of the Cold War to result in the breaching of the wall and a new age of freedom to begin. But in Belfast the British Government built a wall, a ‘Peace Line’ in 1969.  It is still there. (It is amazing the names we give to walls to deny they are walls – the Peace Line, the Separation Barrier!)  And on the day when we celebrate the freeing of the people of Berlin a man is elected in the USA promising to build a wall along the Mexican border. Ironic is not the word.  It has no nobility and cannot create sanctuary.

Jesus, you tore down the walls that divided people;
challenge our desires to build walls
that divide and don’t include,
that keep people out not bring them in,
that have no nobility
and create no sanctuary or home.
Amen.

What do we call Jesus?

We were set an interesting question first thing this morning when, in preparation for the group visiting Bethlehem, we had an introductory lecture on the birth narratives that we find in Matthew and Luke and what the members of the course would find in the city of his birth. The question was not so much how do you reconcile the Matthean and the Lucan accounts of the nativity but how much we actually know about Jesus. ‘If you were asked to fill in a birth or death certificate for Jesus how much do you, do we, actually know?’

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Not easy to complete

 

It was a good question.  First name – Jesus. Surname ….. well, it’s not Christ, uum, not sure … Barjospeh? Well no, that would never do. Barabbas? Well we saw the confusions around that name in a former blog!  Leave it blank.  Mother – Mary.  Father – back to the questions again.  Place of residence of the parents – well Matthew says Bethlehem, Luke says Nazareth.  Place of Birth – we’re back on course, Bethlehem, we all know that.  This form requires two witnesses with home addresses.  Well, some Magi came according to Matthew, but they were strangers and deliberately left no forwarding address so Herod couldn’t trace them.  Luke mentions shepherds but they’re definitely of no fixed abode.  Angels are unreliable witnesses as far as form filling is concerned.  Perhaps old Simeon and Anna will do – and the address for Anna ‘The Temple, Jerusalem’ could not be better, the best postcode in town.

I’m being facetious but only to make the point.  We know few ‘facts’ about Jesus and the facts we do know are disputed and depend on faith. Do I go with Matthew who tells us that the Holy Family lived in Bethlehem or with Luke’s Nazareth based story? Do I go with an annunciation to Joseph in Matthew or to Mary in Luke? Do I go with a story of persecution and slaughter that mirrors the actions of Pharaoh wanting to kill all the Hebrew boys as Matthew tells it or one of welcome in the Temple as Luke tells it?

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The whole cast on stage

 

Of course, in just a few weeks time as we watch children perform nativity plays in our schools and churches, as we go to Nine Lessons and Carols in our cathedrals and parish churches, we know that we deal with the complications by ignoring them and just squashing everything together.  The shepherds will trip over the kings in the crib scene even though their paths never crossed. We cope with it because we know that the story has a deeper message that does not simply involve the ‘facts’ with which a form could be completed.

In fact I didn’t go with the group to Bethlehem and nor did Canon Wendy Robins, the Bishop’s Press Officer for Southwark.  Instead we went into the West Bank to visit two projects, to find out more and see how we might support them.  One, Jeel al Amal in Bethany, I had visited many times before.  The other, Al-Shurooq School for the Blind, in Beit Jala, a village on the edge of Bethlehem, was new to me.

In both of these we saw Jesus at work, in action, through those who believe in his name.  Both schools have Christian foundations but serve the whole community regardless of faith, ethnicity, or gender.  Both serve children who have severe needs – at Jeel children who are orphans or have endured terrible domestic problems; at Al-Shurooq those with no or little sight and some with multiple physical and mental needs. In both tremendous work is being done by Christians for the whole community.

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The question they ask at Jeel al Amal

 

We heard of a little boy, deaf-blind, who was living in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Jericho.  His family didn’t know how to care for him – so they didn’t. He was found wandering, filthy, no shoes and the school was able to take him in.  He is now beginning to communicate and gaining confidence.  He goes back to his family at weekends who are better able to cope with him as a fieldworker is supporting them.  He returns to school, smart and washed and ready for the week.

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It says it all

 

A little boy came to meet me, blind and with some learning difficulties.  He hugged me and smelt me so that he could recognise me again, stroked my arms as Isaac did with Jacob and his brother Esau.  It was so poignant and resonant with the scriptures. By this stage Isaac was blind and when the younger son, Jacob, eager to deceive his father and gain his elder brother’s blessing, dressed his arms in goat skin and himself in his brother’s clothes and approached his father, we’re told that the patriarch’s response was this.

So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, ‘The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau …Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. (Genesis 27.22, 27)

The boy tried to say my name.  It was extremely moving.

The fact I know about Jesus is not what his surname was, nor the precise details of his birth, but that those who follow him do the work that he did and bring his light into darkness, his life to where death stalks, his truth where lies are powerful, his justice where injustice stunts lives, his riches where there is poverty. I know Jesus when I see him and I saw him today.

Jesus, my Lord,
bless those who in your name
proclaim good news to the poor
freedom for the prisoners
recovery of sight for the blind
and set the oppressed free.
Amen.

A change of pace

It’s over four weeks since I arrived in Jerusalem, not really knowing then what I was going to do, apart from seeking out some of the places that in all my visits here I’d never had the opportunity to see.  Each day I’ve been out, somewhere, and almost each day I’ve seen something that has been new to me.  I’ve concentrated on Jerusalem and the immediate area.  So I’ve been to Bethlehem, Hebron, Ein Karem, the Judean Wilderness but apart from those few excursions into places not so far from the city my attention has been here.

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Back to Day One

 

Now, however, I have to begin to think about what I have seen and experienced and how I might be able to help those who might wish to see some of these places themselves.  That, after all, was part of the motivation for coming here – not just to have the experiences of the ‘hidden and holy’ for myself but to be able to point them out to others.

The other thing that is happening is that clergy from the Diocese of Southwark and from the five dioceses of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe are about to head out here.  I will be taking part with them in the ‘Introduction to the Bible Lands’ course from 4-11 November.  That was always part of my plan when I decided how I might best use these weeks of my sabbatical. So I’m looking forward to seeing the other participants in the course.

As I was reflecting on the other day, its good to see things through others eyes.  So we will be going together to many places that I’ve been to on many occasions.  But there are a few places that will be new to me – but more importantly, being able to talk to others and hear what others are thinking will be important. I hope, therefore, that I will still have plenty to share with you.

So please pray for those making the journey to Jerusalem from Africa and from the UK.

Loving God,
bless all who travel
by land, sea and air,
and bring them in safety
to the goal of their journey.
Amen.

The first day of the week

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre can be two very different places.  During the week, later in the day, it is packed with pilgrims; moving around can at times be difficult, finding a peaceful corner a challenge.  If you want to get to kneel at Golgotha or enter the Sepulchre then be prepared for a couple of very long – hour long at times – queues.  Of course it is worth it but, if you are in Jerusalem on a Sunday morning it is worth sacrificing a little time in bed and going down early.

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The streets were empty

 

Today was a gift with an extra hour in bed as the clocks went back overnight.  So I thought I would use that hour to go to the Holy Sepulchre.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. (John 20.1)

It wasn’t dark but the streets and the market were basically empty.  Most of the shutters were closed on the stalls, a few people were moving around but most were just shrugging off the night as the day began.

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The great doors were open

The great doors to the church were open, with their huge locks and bolts.  There were some pilgrims already there, but we weren’t many, enjoying the space and the atmosphere, the wonderful chanting coming from the Copts worshipping at their altar.  A Mass was underway at the XIth station but there were only a couple of people ahead of me at Golgotha.

They were preparing for the procession which would come to the Sepulchre, but I could walk straight in and make my devotions.

Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. (John 20.8-9)

I sat opposite the tomb and said Morning Prayer.  I had taken a version of Common Prayer for travellers and the psalm appointed was so gift-laden for where I now was.

So would I gaze upon you in your holy place,
that I might behold your power and your glory. (Psalm 63.3)

The clock was now approaching 7am and all of a sudden the bells began.  They were rang simultaneously and the biggest bell boomed out.  The sound filled the church overwhelming the liturgies going on.

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The sound filled the church

‘Go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead”‘ (Matthew 28.7)

I made my way to the Franciscan part of the church and the altar with a reredos showing the encounter of Mary Magdalene and the Risen Jesus somewhere in this part of the building.

Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (John 20.16)

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‘Mary’ … ‘Rabbouni’

In the early light of the first day we hear him call us by name and call us into new life. As George Herbert wrote in his poem ‘The Call’

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joyes in love.

I left the church as the worship continued, as the news of the resurrection was shared once more and as an extra blessing I then met the pilgrim group from the Diocese of Southwark on their way to the Holy Sepulchre.

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20.18)

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‘Go, tell his disciples.’

There is no greater news that we can share than the mystery of our faith, our past, present and future reality.

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

Through others eyes

Stay long enough in Jerusalem and you are bound to meet people you know.  This has always been a meeting place in the world and, indeed, so many old maps placed Jerusalem at the centre, the meeting point of the nations. So it was great when I discovered that a group from the Diocese of Southwark had begun their pilgrimage and were staying just a short distance from the Cathedral.

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A version of a mediaeval map near City Hall – Jerusalem is at the centre

 

So I managed to get myself on their coach today.  It was great to be able to spend time with people from Caterham, Whyteleafe, Woldingham, Chaldon and elsewhere with Fr Tim Goode and his wife Bernie leading them on their pilgrimage.  Tim is the priest at St Luke’s Whyteleafe.

Today they were due to visit the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, follow the Via Dolorosa and walk along the Cardo and through the Jewish Quarter.  Though I’ve been to all those places before and during these weeks here it was lovely to see them with this group of pilgrims.

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Praying at the Western Wall

 

For most of  them it was their first time in the Holy Land and so they were experiencing all the joys and enjoying all the surprises that this place holds and they were working at understanding the tensions that exist between the communities in this city.  As their Guide reminded us, Jerusalem means ‘City of Peace’, the city that contains the wholeness of life – its joys and its sorrows.

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Enjoying the Temple Mount

 

Every Guide has different insights they share with their pilgrim group.  I didn’t know, for instance, that the notes with prayers on that are shoved between the stones in the Western Wall are regularly gathered to create room for fresh petitions to be left.  But, as they contain the name of God in the message, they can’t be burnt and so are buried somewhere on the Mount of Olives. Nor did I know that the two ringlets Orthodox Jewish men wear called payot serve as a reminder of the law not to glean to the edge of the field, not to take every grape, every olive but to leave something for the poor and the sojourner. I’ve also found in Leviticus this instruction

You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. (Leviticus 19.27)

So the truth may lie somewhere between or it may derive from both instructions.  But I prefer the former as it reminds me of the story of Ruth who came as a foreigner to the land and was allowed to glean in the barley fields of Bethlehem by Boaz who she would ultimately marry and through whose line David was born. Her story gives us a view of things through others eyes.

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Praying on the Via Dolorosa

 

When you visit the remains of the cardo, the street that ran through the heart of the Roman and Byzantine city, one wall has been painted with a scene to show you what it would have looked like.  But a joke was included in the bottom right hand corner.  There we see a little girl from those former times greeting a little boy, complete with backpack and trainers, from our own time.  Worlds and times meet in this amazing city.  Walking, talking, sitting, praying, singing with these Southwark pilgrims gave me their gift of fresh insight and renewed joy in being in this wonderful, challenging, complex city.

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Visiting the Cardo

 

Seeing the world as others see it is something that we are not always good at.  Perhaps today has been a reminder to me of just how important it is.

All-seeing, all-knowing God,
may I see the world through the eyes
of others,
of the young and the old,
of the happy and the sad,
of the rejoicing and the weeping,
of the free and the prisoner,
of those who know you
and those who have yet to see,
know and love you.
Amen.