Israel 2015: Day 5

Jerusalem is a city of bitter tears, golden stones, and flourishing gardens straddling the edge of a burning desert. It’s been razed and raised more times than historians can count, layer upon layer, century after century. As Ground Zero for the world’s three great religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — Jerusalem welcomes an endless parade of pilgrims and has done so for centuries. This ancient city sits at the junction of East, West, North, and South, and it’s the heartbeat of the story of the Bible. This is the home of Melchizedek, David, Solomon, the kings of Judah, and the prophets of Israel. This is where Jesus was dedicated as a baby. He visited here as a child, traveled here for festival after festival, and, in the end, tied the city in knots. Here He was crucified; here He rose again, and when He returns it will be here, to the Mount of Olives whence He left. Somewhere in this city, the church was born on the Day of Pentecost. And somehow here, after 2000 years of dispersion, Zionism has again found its capital, a golden city now in the hairpin sites of history.

For the last several days I’ve walked around town with a little snap-and-shoot camera and tried to capture some of the scenes, which I’ve posted below.

From our hotel, we can walk to the Damascus Gate in about ten minutes:

Damascus Gate

Inside the walls is a dizzying swirl of sights and sounds and smells:

Market take 2

But at night, the winding streets of the Old City are deserted and eery. One’s footsteps echo in the narrow alleyways:

Jewish Quarter

Spice Mountain:


Someone asked, “Why post this picture?” Beets me.

Beets Me

Tommy Swindol leading communion at a park overlooking the Holy City:


In the Old City, I ran into a wedding procession. The groom, looking shellshocked, was led through streets by hatted men with candles and an accordion player:

Orthadox Jew Wedding

The bride seemed much happier — for now:

Orthadox Jew Wedding part 2

To the east of the city is the Garden of Gethsemane:

Garden 2

Some distance away, Golgotha:


The Southern Steps of the Temple. Jesus walked up these very steps, so they seemed like Holy Ground for us:

temple stairs

At the Western Wall, Jewish boys cleanse themselves for prayer.

Cleaning at WW

One evening I went with Halston Hodges and Lacy Johnston for supper. When we passed a street musician playing “It’s a Wonderful World,” they couldn’t resist a twirl. It was kind of magical:

Dancing in the Streets

Afterward we ascended to the ramparts:

Ramparts Stairwell

The three of us threaded the ramparts as the sun went down.

Jerusalem Ramparts

From the top of the walls, we watched twilight fall on the Holy City.

Ramparts view

I’d love to visit Jerusalem with you. Due to several requests, we’re tentatively planning a 2016 trip to Israel, leaving on or about May 30 of next year. We’ll nail down the details in the next months and let you know. But if you want updates, follow this website or my facebook page.