Today was a day completely on foot, through the Old City many times over. We had a VERY early start this morning to get to the Temple Mount before the lines got too long. We went through security and ascended a long wooden ramp to the top of the Temple Mount. Since the 6th century, the Temple Mount has been home to the Al Aqsa Mosque and the famous (infamous?) Dome of the Rock. Many expressed that they felt a deep sense of spiritual warfare over that whole area.
As we moved throughout our day, we happened to see many bar mitzvahs going on around the Western Wall area, with loud music, drumming, and large groups of people following the young man of honor. We next visited the Davidson Center, an excavation area around the western and southern sides of the Temple Mount. Here are a few pictures from the excavation site:
We then moved around to the south side of the Temple Mount, where we sat on the Southern Steps and read from Acts 2:14-4. This was the location of Peter's sermon on Pentecost. After hearing about the Southern Steps, and how they were created in order to slow the ascent to the Temple Mount, we had some time to reflect on Peter's sermon, and pray for the Holy Spirit.
Our next stop was to the Jewish Quarter, where a first century high priest's house has been excavated. We learned that his house would have belonged to someone VERY rich in the times of Jesus, likely a Sadducee. We know this because it's along the direct path to the Temple, the many mosaics and frescos, as well as the private ritual baths. We saw how Jesus's trial could have been in the reception hall, while Peter could have stood in the adjacent courtyard when he denied Jesus three times.
When we finished at the museum, we broke for lunch. When we reconvened, we went down to the Western Wall Tunnels. These are excavations that have been going on for many years, exposing the full length of the Western Wall at first-century street level. Before heading down into the tunnel, we looked at a model with Sahar.
After we came out of the tunnels into the Muslim Quarter, we had to walk back "above ground" to the Western Wall Plaza. We had time to pray, men on the left side of the wall, women on the right. After the time of prayer at the wall, we walked back to Christ Church and had the rest of the afternoon for down time.
After dinner, Simon Azazian from the Palestinian Bible Society shared with us about his life as a Palestinian Christian and his ministry among Arab and Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It was very encouraging to hear that there are people coming to Christ through the work that the Palestinian Bible Society. Many in our group commented on how impactful Simon's words were.
Stay tuned for Tuesday's post, coming later today!