Sunday, December 27, 2015

Last Day in the Holy Land: Walking the Way of the Cross and Emmaus.

There is a map, a route to follow on this Way of the Cross.

We started out in the darkness: 5:45 am. We walked silently through the streets, through Herod's gate to this, the First Station of the Cross: Jesus is Judged.

We moved to the Second Station: Jesus Receives his Cross. We began singing "Were you there when they crucified my Lord." Pilgrims took turns reading scripture and leading prayers at each station. Otherwise, we walked either silently or singing, at times, "Were you there . . ."

The Third Station of the Cross: Jesus Falls for the First Time

The Fourth Station of the Cross: Jesus Meets His Mother.

The Fifth Station of the Cross: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross.

The Sixth Station of the Cross: Veronica Wipes Jesus' Brow

The Seventh Station of the Cross: Jeus Falls a Seond Time.

The Eighth Station of the Cross: Jesus Talks to the Weeping Women

The Ninth Station of the Cross: Jesus Falls a Third Time.

The Tenth Station of the Cross: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments.

The Eleventh Station of the Cross: Jesus is Crucified.

The Twelfth Station of the Cross: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Carrying the Cross to Calvary

At Calvary. It was here, once again, that I prayed that prayer, "Lord, your will be done, not mine." I gained clarity during the praying of these stations and once again at Calvary, as I did in 2009. I gained clarity as to my calling and my family. I will be writing about this over the next few months, I think, as I unpack the magnitude of the gift this trip has been to me spiritually, emotionally and physically.

At the Thirteenth Station: Jesus' Body is Taken Down from the Cross.

At the Fourteenth Station -- Jesus' Body is Placed in the Tomb.

We entered the space right behind the tomb where we could have some privacy and offered our prayers. 

This is taken directly from John Peterson's Book: A Walk in Jerusalem: Stations of the Cross. 

So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. he then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there sitting opposite the tomb. --Mathew 27:59-61

We go, finally, to the small building called th Empty Tomb, inside the great Church of th Holy Sepulchre, to lift up our prayers.
What other church, what other cathedral, what other basilica in the world hosts and Empty Tomb?
None other does. Such a church is found only in Jerusalem. Our roots stem from this Empty Tomb.
This Empty Tomb makes sense out of our lives.
The Empty Tomb gives meaning and purpose to our lives.
The Empty Tomb makes us all citizens of Jerusalem -- not only this earthy Jerusalem, but also the heavenly Jerusalem, where we look forward to feasting on the heavenly bread.
So as we stand before the Empty Tomb, let us make our confession.

L: Lord, Jesus Christ, we come to confess our feelings.
R: We come with anxiety and sorry, with hope and expectation.

L: Lord, Jesus Christ, we come to the lonely cross.
R: And we see you stripped, we see you murdered we see you deserted.

L: Lord, Jesus Christ, We come to the Empty Tomb
R: And we see our down death, we see our own tomb, we see our own emptiness.

L: Lord, Jesus Christ, when we come to the Empty Tomb
R: We remember how we treated our parents, our friends, our neighbors, our Lord, and we feel sorry for ourselves.

L: Lord, Jesus Christ, when we come to the Empty Tomb,
R: We see a hungry world before us, the pain of starving children, the guilt of war on our hands, the terr or of friends without rights, and we know that we share in these vials.

L: Lord, Jesus Christ, when we come to the Empty Tomb, 
R:We search inside ourselves and we cannot escape what we are, people caught in our selfish love, our old hyocrisy, our depressions, our loneliness, and our frustrations.

L: Lord, Jesus Christ, when we come to the Empty Tomb, ,
R: We face you as never before, as the one forgotten, as the one oppressed, as the one pushed aside, as the one left out.

L: Lord, Jesus Christ, when we come to the Empty Tomb, 
R: To confess our guilt, our pain,our emptiness, and to look for hope from you.

But it is also at the Empty Tomb that we receive our healing:

L: People of God, why do you seek the living among the dead?
R: Because we are afraid, we are uncertain, we are uncomfortable here, and we have doubts about this man.

L: Do not be afraid, for he has risen fro the dead, he has broken through the tomb, he has become back to life, and he is here among us now.
 People of God, why do you seek the living among the dead?
R: Because we feel guilty, we feel lonely, and we feel lost, for we deserted that man.

L: Do not carry your guilt any longer, for he has taken the guilt himself, he has buried it in his grave, he has lifted it to his cross, and he is here among us now.
 People of God, why do you seek the living among the dead?
R: Because our wounds are deep, we have torn away from that man, we have broken with him and with our brothers and sisters.

L: Do not dwell on your wounds for he has risen to heal you, he has risen to forgive you, he has risen to change you all, and bind us all together now. 
People of God, he is not here; he is risen.
R: Yes, he is risen!

L: He is risen!
R: And he is here!

L: Alleluia!
R: Alleluai!

L: He is risen!
R: And he is here!

This was a most blessed time -- in that room, leading this set of prayers at this station. Thank you, Lord, for your great gift to us. Thank you, pilgrims, for sharing this gift with yourselves and with each other.

We blessed woven rosaries on the Anointing stone:

We had a few minutes of silence to be in that space:

We moved from here to the Dome of the Rock, having to pass through two security checkpoints.

We had a different view of the Western Wall from on the stairs climbing to the Temple Mount -- and as it is Monday, they are getting ready for more Bar Mitzvahs:

And we went out via Herod's Gate, the same gate we entered in:

We went back to the Guest House to have breakfast and freshen up, then we were on the road to Emmaus.

It was a beautiful day to celebrate the Eucharist outside among the olive trees, to recall that Gospel story, and to be reminded by our Chaplain Kelli Grace that we are on a journey of faith, and that having been to this Holy Land our work a part of this journey is to share this story, and invite others to take this pilgrimage as well.

It has been a great privilege to be with this amazing group of pilgrims. It is a privilege to serve as their Bishop. They have given a great gift to me this trip -- and I can only hope to replay that gift one day for them. 

Here are pictures of our celebration at Emmaus:

As we are winding down our trip now, we are quietly reflecting and returning to places we loved. Some walked through the old city again. I returned to my favorite fresh squeezed pomegranate juice vendor before heading back to pack:

There is something so beautiful about this city, about this Land -- so Holy. Every step feels as though I am in the footsteps of Jesus, the Saints, pilgrims, the ancients -- every step is a prayer.

I can't wait to come back and explore even more. 

Until next time . . . 

Here are some other pictures from the Way of the Cross: