My Journey To Jerusalem The Gospel According To Terrence
On the Via Delorosa
by Terrence G. Clark Chapter Ten - Day 9
Today was a little different. It was our last breakfast at the hotel in Jerusalem.
Our check out, with the exception of a couple of rooms, was at noon, although our day in Jerusalem would end around 5 PM. We agreed to stash our luggage together in holdover rooms—a hotel courtesy until we returned at four. This also allowed us somewhere to freshen up before meeting Albert in the evening.
The straws had already been drawn to determine the romp of today. For the most part, we would stay together as in the days before. Husband and wife, Jason and Damaris would be off on their own. We would all join later---all with the exception of Rona’s husband, who resting.
He was leaving for the Philippians when the couple returned to the US. I was good. I had some things and places yet to fulfill. At this point, however, I figured I tag along and see how the Lord would lead us that day.
Billie was in scout leader mode. An assumed roll I think. It was okay, with her military background, she fit the part. A little mother-ish too. She and Damaris shared that quality during the trip. Damaris reminded me of a room-mother back from elementary school. “Walk with purpose,” she demand, lovingly, as she stared up the troop, from time to time, while going up mountainous paths or in shadowy tunnels.
“I don’t mean to be harsh guys,” she'd say. If anyone was irritated with her, it wasn’t relayed. I think mostly our team was just trying to stay focus while taking everything in.
Each tour stop had fairly adequate coverage. Usually consisting of the instruction on the bus, the walk to the site, the history speech on location (starting mostly when we everyone gathered around but sometimes before if people loitered), visiting each station there, and time for restrooms, pictures, and some casual reflections with each other.
So each of us, got the Damaris eye, at some point, I suppose. Billy would look back and especially on the Free day and remind “Okay guys let’s stay together. Watch your pockets. Pickpockets are around.”
We were warned. Israel was like anywhere else in the world where prudence was due diligence. Tourists are sometimes easy targets. Distracted by seeing new things while whipping out wallets and unzipping purses, quick to show anyone watching their monetary stash.
vendors on the way
The agreed upon first visit was to head back to the Old City sites. Some, of the team, were adamant about visiting and walking the full Via Dolorosa. We had only visited 3 of the 14 stops the day before. That would be great because it crossed right into the Mamilla Mall which was also on tap for the day.
We weren’t lost, but really not in agreement how to get to where we wanted to go. It reminded me of the night before. Things did look familiar now. Salvation came from a church. There was a Christian church right on the street we were on. Billy and I went in. She spoke with the pastor. The pastor led us out the church, down the street, and around the corner pointing to us the way. I don’t think everyone was yet in total agreement, but the pastor's directions and Billie’s confidence won out, and we were off.
Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
They were right. It took me a minute to draw the connection, but we were on the right road. We entered the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, taking pictures as we looked. Some of our team joined with other pilgrims and gave homage at this site. This is the traditional site, believed to be the site where Jesus was crucified and also laid in the grave.
Afterward, we exited. A self-imposing tour guide had attached his services to a couple of the ladies on our team as sought out the restrooms. We were warned about this, being told not to engage their conversation or they will assess you as having used their services, and will want to be paid. The restrooms were actually down a flight of steps. When I came up, I interrupted the man’s hustle, assuring we were good. He left to pursue someone else.
The night before I had an imagination. I word it that way, choosing not to say a vision, but a desire of the heart. It was to sing the “Via Dolorosa” and “Were You There” on the very street the Lord carried the cross.
I heard Diane hum the first song earlier.
The street was packed. What you would expect of this place. But God had dome it. It was almost as if someone had cleared a space in the crowd. To the side of the church, up against a wall, and on a platform like step, was an unoccupied space.
No one knew what was on my heart. I set my camera to video mode and persuaded Diane. “Sing the Via Dolorosa with me.” We did. We didn’t know all the words. Yet there, a song we both had listened too and hummed for years, about this place and that time, we were singing it right there.
The others had sat down on the raised step. I think Denise held the camera. I sang, A cappella again, “Were you there”. I had sung this song many times---some on Good Friday and Easter service. Now here I was singing, “Were You There.”
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble) Tremble Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross? Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross? (Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble) Tremble Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross? Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? (Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble) Tremble Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Well, were you there when the stone was rolled away? Were you there when the stone was rolled away? (Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble) Tremble Were you there when the stone was rolled away? (refrain) Were you there when He rose up from the grave? (refrain) writen by JOHNNY R. CASH,
I sang just several verses. At the last chorus gestured the rest of the group to sing with me. They did. The Lord fulfilled another prophecy and another dream.
We left there and headed up “the way of suffering” toward the mall. Taking our time as we went, remembering the Lord’s journey, but also looking at the vendor wares. One of the ladies on or team was a little discouraged with others lack of solemnity, shopping while we should be reflecting. Interestingly, at the next bargain of Jerusalem scarves and other products, she was shopping as well.
But I got it, at least, the way the Lord revealed to me. It was early morning. Jesus had experiences a mock trial that Thursday night. Only a handful of accusers had gathered, coaxed by the Sanhedrin, at Pilate’s Praetorium, to condemn Jesus to death. The accusation was insurrection. It was a lie, birthed out of their own rebellion, hatred, and selfishness.
He was beaten so bad, He didn’t even look like a man. A crown of thorns was shoved onto his head. Portions of his beard had been ripped out. The bible says he was crucified with thieves. The contrast, as vendors were preparing for the day to sell their wares, and to make a living, thieves, along with Jesus, were being pushed between them, on this narrow street. I could imagine, as their day was being interrupted, scowling these criminals as they went by to death. He was crucified with thieves. He had stolen nothing but had given His all. As for insurrection, He was marching upward to take his rightful place on the throne of heaven, Jerusalem, the world, and our hearts.
I'm thinking don't let her smile fool you
I said it before. I’ll say it again, Israel is a beautiful nation and Jerusalem is a beautiful city. Israel is full of its history, terrain and agriculture. Jerusalem sits amongst it, adding also its colors of produce, product, and people. Although I am settled upon the Jewishness of the nations, the mixture of Jew, Arab, and others all are now a part of its essence.
Somehow, in a place marked by so much war, in its past, people somehow still manage a peace. It may be a forced peace for now. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) marked the streets and buildings. Young soldiers---male and female standing side by side in stores and lobbies with M16 rifles to their side. Yet, they were friendly pausing to take pictures or smile at knowledge of our support.
People, in US, told us they were praying for us while we were in the Holy Lands. Some were praying out of fear for our lives and others the normal “God be with you prayer of faith and safety.” There were several incidents while we there. Some were exploited in the news muffing the details. I mused, sadly, that there were probably more tragic incidences, in our home cities, while we were away, than where we were in the Middle East.
We indulged the rest of the morning in sightseeing and shopping. Probably borderline sacrilegious but I thought the road should be renamed the “Via Dollor Rosa” or “The Way of Bargaining” We made it to the mall and started our tour there, finding the vendors mixed,
Don't mess with us..seriously!
with typical store designs similar to the US, but with some unique flare. There were mini sculptures all along the way. Quite good, I thought. The display ending with the one I saw the night before---the bronzed band.
The two teams, including Richard from Ed Hill Tours, met at the circle as planned. Some of us could not break from their western appetite and were craving a hamburger. There was a joint in Jerusalem---Zuni's that was known for its burgers. The team headed there.
The burgers were western, but the toppings differed. My burger was with Gorgonzola cheese, mushrooms, peppers and the usually fixings. I wanted to wash it down with apple cider. The waitress had me think twice when she wanted to know if I wanted my cider with gas. Working through the language translation, we realized, she meant, did I want my apple juice carbonated? It was a decent burger. Billy didn’t like hers. She sent it back, twice, and it was still red. Ready for the sacrifice I guess.
The day was growing closer to dark. we were walking back to the hotel. There was a side street with a handful of vendors. One had musical instruments. Billie, Linda and I turned that way. Seeing us approach, the vendor pulled out a set of bongo and oiled up the skin. “This is how you do this,” he said while demonstrating. Billy asked could she play them. He handed them to her. She propped the drums between her knees.
The vendor didn’t know. Billie had shared with me how the Lord had trained her supernaturally on percussion instruments. I had no reason to doubt. She had demonstrated how to blow a shofar back in Tiberius. I couldn’t blow it. Jason tried and made some noise. Billie blew it again and again.
I didn’t know. She had believed God to play music there in Jerusalem. She did know. I had believed Him to dance on the Holy streets. When Billie began hit those skins with her hands and she played, and she
played, I understood that as my queue to dance, and I dance. The Israeli merchant watched and listened before speaking. When we were finish, he said, referring to the now used drums, “This will cost you more know.”
I said, “No, you can charge more because it has been broken in.” Back to the hotel to freshen up, pick up luggage, and rendezvous with Albert, the bus driver. There would one more stop before the airport. As we waited in the lobby, team members took advantage of the hotel store to try to find a last minute item or trinket to take home.
Albert came at 5:30 PM. The hotel busboys loaded the bus for us. Bus loaded, we headed out, leaving Jerusalem, on way to leave Israel. It was night now. The same as when we came in. I hadn’t realize up to that point, how close Jerusalem was to Tel Aviv. But before the airport there was Mid-Eastern restaurant, on the way, where we would enjoy the last supper, in Israel (for this tour).
I wasn’t hungry. Gorgonzola burger was still on my stomach. Just the way we started, our dining experience, we ended. Bowls of Mid-eastern cuisine was set before us and we filled up. Not knowing that huge bowls protruding handles of shish kabob was going to be set before us. I didn’t eat the main course. We shared around the table our summation of the tour.
After saying our goodbyes to Albert at the airport, we readied ourselves for the extensive security checks we would have ego through. Time was okay, it was about 9 PM. The plane was scheduled 12:15 AM departure. Scheduled to arrive in Newark NJ at 6:30 AM a 12-hour ride.
Damaris had ask me earlier in the week was I enjoying the trip. Although my answer was an undoubting yes, I told her I missed my wife---which I did. Although, I wanted to see everyone after the 10 day journey, I missed her and my soon to be one year old granddaughter---Zariah—her name a contraction of Zion and Moriah. Her birthday is the same as mine.
Rona's Report - Day 9 Friday
9th Day – November 12 (Thu) – Free Day
Via Dolorosa via Damascus Gate - Believed to be the path Jesus took on the way to his crucifixion; consisting of 14 stations of the cross that start near the Lion’s Gate and end at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Terrence led the singing of “Were you there, when they crucified my Lord?”
Prior to departure from Israel, had group lunch (Zuni) and dinner (typical Jewish/Middle Eastern restaurant) where each one shared his/her impression of the trip