|Jennie had a little too much fun with the camera...|
We stopped at the garden of Gethsemane and had communion, led by the same pastor who baptized me the day at the Jordan. We then made our way over to the church on the other side of the street that went with it. The place was beautiful! It was designed to show the "darkness of humanity" and all the light that comes in is through the slightly opaque windows. It was dark, but gorgeous.
Our third stop was at St. Anne's, a church which was next to "one of the most confusing archaeological sites in the Holy Land". We are apparently not really sure what to make of it all. The area is right for the story of the man who was sitting by the well waiting for the angel's wings to stir up the water and to be the first person in the pool so he'd be healed. Well, these pools were way too deep for that story to take place here, although it may have been in a smaller pool in a nearby area.
The last stop of the touring part of our trip was at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church is absolutely ginormous and houses many different denominations. As with many of our sites, this may or may not have been the location of what they claim it was. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (or, the Church of the Resurrection) is another potential location of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. According to our teacher, there is no good evidence that it isn't the correct location. But we also don't know for sure that it is. (Whereas the Garden Tomb is almost definitely the wrong location)
People crowd around the stone that Jesus' body was supposedly laid out on. They pray over it and lay their stuff on it. It was a little strange. I mean, I get that it's powerful, but laying your shopping bags on it? That seems a bit odd to me...
We went into this little corner off of nothing so that we could have access to an area that still had tombs in it. Let me just say that this one little room creeped me out more than anything we've done the whole trip. The leaders talk all about how we might be weirded out by all the idolatry and stuff that these orthodox churches do, but it really hasn't bothered me. I mean, sometimes is flat out gaudy and ugly, but it doesn't seem creepy to me. But this little tomb room gave me the serious willies. I'm not even claustrophobic, but you had to duck into a little doorway and then it was super dark and there was one little candle in there and the little body chambers and I was like "I need to get out of here!" I took this picture and turned right around and left. UGH.
There was a really long line into this weird little structure, which is supposed to be the tomb (I think?) that they put Jesus in. They've built this strange room around it and you have to wait in the line just to get in there. I didn't bother. But apparently there's just one little piece of rock that still exists in there. But the Sun was shining right down through the window at the top of the arched ceiling in the bigger chamber that the boxed room is in. It had this gorgeous effect in the dark place.
And this is the place that Jesus was crucified (assuming that this is the right location for the whole ordeal). As with everything else in this area, super gaudy and overdone.
We then had the afternoon to walk around and meander in the Old City.