welcoming the sabbath


obviously, as devout christians, jerusalem is sacred for us especially because it is where jesus lived, ministered, died and was resurrected. but additionally, because we are also believers in the old testament, one universal loving god, the immense good in all religions (as well as in the lives of the non-religious), and the value of learning from conflict, jerusalem is sacred for us generally.

the truth is, i believe, that this city is the most significant place on planet earth. i think every traveler, religious or non-religious - muslim, jew, hindu, catholic, mormon, buddhist, agnostic, atheist – should go to jerusalem. it is an absolutely incredible melting pot teaming with staggering history that has affected (and continues to affect) the entire world. there is so much to learn in jersualem about humanity: conflict, diversity, faith, struggle, culture. i certainly do not claim to understand all the complexities of the dynamics of this place, but i do heartily appreciate the opportunities i have had to learn about those globally significant dynamics by experiencing daily life in the holy city – this has made me a better human being.

on good friday, before visiting all those christian sites i wrote about in the last post, we walked through the jewish quarter of the old city to the western wall. there is an amazing spirit of reverence, devotion and hope despite struggle around that facade, a last shred of an ancient, holy, huge monument of faith in god.  we found a couple good lookout points where we could see the western wall as well as the dome of the rock on top of the temple mount – the holiest place for jews and one of the holiest places for muslims in one frame. the area of the temple mount has been greatly sacred for different reasons to different people for thousands and thousands and thousands of years – it’s pretty staggering to take in a view of it.

after our christian “pilgriming” along the via dolorosa and to the different sites of christ’s death and resurrection, we returned to the western wall  to welcome in the sabbath day with jews and onlookers of other faiths. when i was a student in jersualem, my friends and i would love to come to the western wall on friday evenings. we were welcomed with open arms by new friends that would invite us to sing, dance, and pray with them in celebration of the beginning of the sabbath. i enjoyed sharing this experience again, with ian.

click through to see some pictures of our time at the western wall and around the old city welcoming in the sabbath both on friday evening and during our walk towards church at the jerusalem center saturday morning:
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^^ juice stands like this one are everywhere in the old city. i had a fresh-squeezed pomegranate and orange juice every single day. so so so yummy. ^^
^^ on our way back to the western wall, we stopped at the austrian hospice, which we heard had a rooftop terrace with fantastic views over the old city. the views were fabulous, indeed! ^^
^^ there was a group of jewish men on the street below the hospice singing and dancing as they made their way to the western wall. fun to watch from above! ^^
^^ overlooking christian domes and muslim domes as the sounds of the jews’ singing filled the air. ^^
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^^ ahh those old city streets: packed with christian pilgrims, palestinian shop-keepers, curious tourists, devout muslims, singing jews, and israeli cops. ^^
^^ gotta love the selfie-taker in the middle of this photo! ^^
^^ we watched the sabbath celebrating on opposite sites of the partition (the western wall is separated for men and women) for an hour or so, and got to put our own written prayers into the crevices of the huge stones of the holy facade. of course we honored the request to not take pictures while in the plaza. i caught this shot from the overlook on our way out of the old city. ^^
^^ very happy and quite travel-weary walking back to our airbnb through those narrow streets that i love, love, love! ^^
^^ a snapshot from saturday morning, after the easter vigil at the church of the holy sepulcher (more on that in the next post), on our walk towards our church meetings at the jerusalem center. i love the sometimes-cheeky shop-keepers in the old city. this guy posed for my photo and then i showed it to him after i told him he looked good! ^^
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^^ i just love these very well-worn, vibrant streets so much. have i mentioned that yet?! ^^

it’s really impossible to describe a visit to jerusalem – a place so wildly significant and stuffed with history and complexities. the really amazing thing is that despite all, all the centuries of conflict and friction and struggle, there is a definitive, very unique spirit of some brand of harmony seeping through it all. there’s really no place like it. 


  1. As I looked through the pictures, I anxiously waited to see whether you respected not to take a picture on Sabbath next to the Western Wall. Glad you did!

    This really brings back so many memories (including me telling off another German who took a picture which I thought so blatantly disrespectful so that I felt the need to say something. :-) ).

    While the conflict is omnipresent due to so many soldiers and guns everywhere, I also felt that I would forget about it. It's sad/scary how easily it is getting used to seeing guns.

    For anyone who wants to go to Jerusalem, I can really recommend the Austrian Hospice. The rooms are good and clean and the location is perfect.

  2. Actually the Bible clearly states that there is NOT good in all religions:

    Matthew 7:23-23: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you"

    1. Dude, the Bible (insofar as it is correctly translated) also tells you not to eat pork and how to treat your slaves. WHY would you make a designed-to-provoke comment on the blog of someone who is known to be a devoted member of a certain religion? That's just mean. Maybe you worry about your own spiritual path and let everybody else worry about theirs?

    2. Actually that verse tells us we can't be sure of our own salvation as Christians just by calling in the name of the Lord. Christ was not upset about other casting demons out in His name by those not of the followers he called when they complained to. Jesus they saw this and told them to stop. He doesn't want one Christian to make another Christian change their fold.

    3. I actually never thought of that interpretation, k, it does make sense. But I do recall another scripture that says (something like) broad and spacious is the road leading to destruction but narrow and cramped is the road to salvation and few find it. So to me, that says that all roads DO NOT lead to God. So, not all religions are good. Just my take.

  3. Dude (LOL) - Charity made a comment about how the Old and New Testaments say there is good in all religions. In my study of the Bible, I have not seen any scripture that says or even implies that. If there is one, I stand corrected - please refer me to a particular scripture to reference.

    1. hi dudes! i actually didn't say anything about specific claims of the bible about different religions. i just said i personally believe there is good in all religions. and as a side note, i don't think that general sentiment is directly contradicted by the scripture that was quoted.

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    1. thanks for the kind words! i love my pregnant body in a lot of ways ... i am just sometimes (not often!) self-conscious about it as it changes. i am feeling great and realizing my honest confession of a itty bit of struggle may have come across too strong. i am proud of the amazing work my body is doing and am so grateful to be pregnant!

  5. On a technical/logistical note, I'm curious about driving distances during your journey - I don't have a good sense of how far apart different points of interest are, especially since biblically it is clear that Christ's travels didn't cover a huge distance. However, everything is relative, and His sphere of life wasn't only on foot, so could you at some point perhaps touch on this? Thank you so, so much for these beautiful posts - such a great way to feel peaceful on my lunch break. :)