Last Day

Dear friends,

This will be my last blog post from Jerusalem. In a few hours (at 3am Jerusalem time!) a bus will take me to the airport and we’ll be headed home.

Today was a day for summing up everything this course has been about. This morning was about prayer and worship. We got up early and headed into the old city about 7am to walk the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross. This procession of 14 stations is the same one we do in church on Good Friday, but the tradition started here in Jerusalem. Along the city streets, 14 stations are marked with numbers and signs to commemorate the events leading up to Jesus’s cruxifixction. We carried a large cross (like the one we use at Redeemer on Good Friday) into the Old City and wound our way through the Muslim and Christian Quarters from the first stop, the supposed palace of Pontius Pilate, to the last stop at Holy Sepulcher. It was wonderful and sad and meaningful to pray the prayers of Jesus’s suffering and death in this city that has known so much suffering, while people around us went about their daily business heading to school or work. We paid one last visit to Holy Sepulcher and knelt by Calvary as well as by the empty tomb.

Then it was off to Emmaus, seven miles outside of Jerusalem. At a beautiful hilltop church, we read the Emmaus story and then broke into small groups to talk about how this pilgrimage has changed us and what we will take home from it. Then we had a closing  Eucharist, breaking the bread just as Jesus did with the disciples at Emmaus.

We had a free afternoon, so Connie and I spent our last few hours walking around in the Old City one last time.

This evening, we had our “closing ceremonies” which consisted of a talent show/skits followed by our graduation ceremony. At our final dinner, there were tearful goodbyes to those who have become fast friends during the last two weeks.

Now I have to stuff a few last things in my suitcase and snatch a few hours sleep before heading the the plane. I know it will be very good to be home, but this has been an amazing trip. I look forward to sharing more about it with you.