Showing posts from February, 2005

Captains log: Star date day 19

What a day. I went back to the City of David, and bought a ticket this time. That came with a wee booklet informing me about of what I was looking at. Made much more sense this time. Then I went into Warren's shaft, (that's what I needed the ticket for), one of the first archeological digs from the 1800's, then down into the shaft dug maybe even before David for people to collect water out of the Gishon spring. I hadn't intended walking Hezekiah's tunnel (dug about 2,700 - 2,800 years ago) but three others came as I was leaving, so I just jumped on in there, shoes, socks and all. About 1/2 hour later we popped out at the pool of Shiloam (I make no promises for the spelling here) Amazing stuff to wlk through this windy shaft dug so long ago. This German group behind us just stripped off when they got out. Is there no shame?? Then dripping wet I headed off to my real aim for the day, to walk with Jesus on his last journey. I headed up Mt Zion, pausing at the Basi

Discourses, or how we describe each other

So much of how we see and treat each other is determined by how we describe each other. For example, I have been asked how are those "damned Palestinians" described by my Jewish Israeli tour guides. The short answer is, not. The word Palestinian was never used. Only Arab! (Which of course means they could just go live somewhere else cause all Arabs are the same. Soem of the tour group I was with, Americans, actually said this!!!) And historically they are described badly. Firstly, the Muslims (Arabs) closed the Golden Gate onto Temple Mount specifically to prevent the Jewish Messiah entering. They then built a cemetery in front of the Golden Gate as a second lien of prevention, as no priest (which the Messiah will be) can enter a graveyard, except their own. Well, that may well have been part of it, but I am sure that the desire to not have a large gate opening out from the enclosure around the Mosques to outside the walls was also a big part in closing the Gates. And Musl


Lent is about repentance. Often that is described as being sorry and aligning our lives with God, which I am sure it is. But I suspect it is more, and being in this place of division has helped me see that. There is a line in scripture that says that the sins of the fathers are visited on their children, and on their children's children. To put it another way, the consequences of our sins don't stop just because we confess our sins. The consequences continue. The relationships are still fractured. Injustice is still imbedded. The other is still suffering the pain. That is certainly true here. Israel and Palestine suffers from the sins of the past. The centuries of abuse, humiliation and murder of the Jewish people by Europeans in particular, that culminated in the Holocaust. All of Europe is accountable, and it is not enough to say that we will not forget. Arab and Palestinian refused to agree to the formation of a Jewish State and through violent means tried very hard to p

The Ancient of Days

The log of a hot hot day in Jerusalem! Today was the day of old and ancient. I began with a saunter through the Christian and Armenian quarters of the Old City. Then went up onto the Ottoman wall at Jaffa gate (it led to the road to Jaffa, or Joppa, or Tel Aviv now). Fantastic views! You walk along fortifications used by the Jordanians in 1947 - 1967. Snipers used the holes I peered through. I went over Zion gate, which still ahs the bullet marks from the Jewish fighters in 1947 trying to get into the city, and failing! I came off the wall just before Dung Gate, and then went into the Archeological Site at the southern end of the Temple Mount. It has been uncovered since 1967. I walked the Herod the Great's main street along the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. I climbed the Crusader (Templar) fortification at the southern end of the Mount. I walked through Early Muslim palaces built on top of Byzantine houses, and then walked through them as well. I walked up to the Hulgah Gate


One of the more moving things I have done was to go to the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem. More than anything it helped me understand the imperative for the state of Israel, and the history of what we see happening today. I also grieved that so little has been learnt, and politicians and using the same lines to day as they did in the 1930's to wash their hands of the Jewish problem. What I hadn't known was that when Hitler first moved to push all Jews out of Germany, the rest of the world closed their borders. At an international meeting to discuss solutions, lines like, "It is an internal problem, we can do nothing", and (from Australia) "We have no racial problems here, so will not allow any Jews in" (Sound familiar?) Britian, under pressure from the Arabs, closed off Palestine, arrested the illegal immigrants they caught, and send any ships they caught back (to the death camps) What is also clear is that the Allied Command knew what was happening in the c

Cruising in Israel

Well, I survived going to the Druze village. (I had to wear a dog collar again, with black cassock!!) The scene and the story from the village is really sad stuff. The Druze are a off-shoot of Islam, who follow Jethro, Moses father in law. They live in Israel, Syria and Lebanon. They only marry within their own people, and their religion is fully known only by their sheikhs, so is a secret. Anyway, a Christian boy and a Druze boy had a fight it seems, and the Christian boy cursed the Druze. To get him back, the Druze boy made up a story about there being pictures of naked Druze girls on the internet. This incited shocking violence, shops, houses and cars burned, the church attacked, and 3,000 Christians (I think) fleeing to safety. Even though the Druze boy has been caught, the violence continues. So so sad. Monday night Samuel and Susan invited me to go out with their family and another family to celebrate Valentines day. Midday is the main meal, so at 10pm we went to a very nice

A Day Walking with Jesus

It didn't snow to day, but it was close while we were in Bethlehem. Today we have been to Bethlehem, which meant leaving our guide and bus in Israel,(as no Israeli is allowed into the West Bank cities) and getting a Palestinian guide and vans. It was very different with this group than being with the group last week. Some of them are struggling with the whole scene really. I am however grateful that it is quiet, and that I have had time to stop and pray there. After serious shopping in Bethlehem, we went on to the scale model of the Roman Jerusalem, which was very helpful. Then on to the via delarosa, lunch (at 2pm) and then on to Holy Sepulchre, again for me. I am begining to get into that place now, and am finding it much more helpful and deepening. After going to the Western wall, and praying again for peace, the rest went back to the bus, and I walked back through the old city. Most of our group were amazed I had even been to the old city on my own, and couldn't imagine


Is there hope in this land? That is a big question! First, the meeting I came for. It is the Steering Committee of the International Anglican Youth Network. It was our first meeting. And part of our agenda was working out what we are on about, and what we should be doing. The group represents Youth Officers from Anglican Churches all over the world, with different languages, cultures, theologies, united in our work with young people. Part of what we worked on what how to help this group communicate more, and work together. Another part was trying to respond to the Report (the Windsor Report) and how the Anglican Communion can continue to function in the face of different churches stands on homosexuality. My view is that it must continue, to do otherwise is an offence against the Gospel. That is made clear here in Jerusalem where we Christians still fight over who can use Holy Sepulcre when, like at Easter last year. We are so disunited, because pride in the past seperated us. We canno

Cold and chilly

Well, it snowed here today, in Jeruslaem, which means it was very very cold. Tomorrow we are outside nearly all day. Brrrrr! The meeting is finished, and now I am being a tourist. Sunday I went on a shared taxi (sherut) down to Tel Aviv, for 20 shekels (NIS), and then caught a taxi to the hotel for 50 (NIS). The hotel did not have booking for me, but let me in. I was feeling very tense until the tour guide turned up at 8am next morning. Yesterday we did Masada, and the Dead Sea, I have photos to prove that I floated in it. It tastes gross, and feels really oily, but wasn't too cold, considering how cold it was out of the water. I am with a group of Amercians who are mostly nice, and are loving all this liberating Arab villages stuff. Masada is an amazing place, and an amazing story, of heroism, stupidity, and the desire not to be a slave. It is also so bleak and dry. Yet 2,000 years ago it had a beautiful palace, some crops, and was safe. Yet the Romans were able to defeat after

Justice and Peace

Today has been a quiet day. WE met the Bishop, and then attended an ordination of a young American man here for 2 years as part of the Episcopal church of the USA young adult mission and ministry program. It was nice to be part of it, although is was an ECUSA service transplanted. I sat among several Palestinian priests who sang loudly in Arabic. I learnt yesterday about Palestinians in East Jerusalem being Jordanians by passport (because of the 1948-1967 occupation of East Jerusalem by Jordan.) But they are not really Jordanians, so are kind of in limbo. It is one of the fuels for wanting to be part of Palestine. I also learnt that Israeli Palestinians are not called up to military service. On one hand that is good. It is heart breaking to see these kids standing around holding their machine guns, checking travel documents at checkpoints, being placed with such responsibility and fear so young. But because the Palestinians do not serve, they are excluded from mainstream Israeli econ

Journeying up North

This will be short, with little reflection. More a "this is what I did today." Today we went up north (not as far as the snow) thru the West Bank, past Jericho, which is still closed, to Galilee. We stopped at the Jordan River (most of the water is taken now for Israeli irrigation schemes) to the Church at the Mount (Sermon of) then to where Peter met the resurrected Jesus, which has soem very cool Byzantine mosaics. I accidently spent moeny there! Then we had lunch of Peter fish and chips. ($50 each - lucky work is paying for that one) After lunch, we went to Capernaum,where Jesus based himself, then Cana, and then Nazareth to the Bascilica of the Annunciation. It was started in the 1960's, and is stunning. We didn't have enough time there and I am really looking forward to going back. Just breath taking, both levels. I had better go, there is soemone waiting for me to finish Keep praying for peace shalom


Hi Last night we had a candlemass service. As we read the Psalm, I was struck by how more real it all was being in Jerusalem. We are not talkign about some far off and mythical place. It is real, and it is still in turmoil. That turmoil was reinforced today when we went to Bethlehem. Our host, who is an Israeli Palestinian cannot go into the West Bank. He came with us, but it was risky. As we drove into the West Bank, we were taken through the new wall. It is an abomonible thing, cutting through the country, cutting familues in half, holding the Palestinians in their ghetto. The strife goes on. When we prayed the "Jesus have mercy" before the eucharist, I was struck by the fact that although our sins are forgiven, the carry on. The behaviour of Christians here in the Holy Land, and in our treatment of Jews over 2000 years has given brith to todays conflict. We are part of the cause. It is not enough for me to feel outrage. We need ot acknowledge our part, and to work for a

A beginning

The real reason for this trip is a meeting of the Steering Committee for the new International Anglican Youth Network. It is a great group to belong to. It is inspring the hear the issues faced by Anglicans around the world, and how they respond. We are part of a church that is weeking to make a realy difference in young peoples lives across the globe. The last of our group arrived this morning, and we began our meeting. More another time Re yesterdays reflection on veneration. The following comment was offered by my wife, Bonnie " It's strange about the veneration thing - As you say, holy sights are not in our cultural experience - except places like Riverslea. You also have no reference points for many of the places in the city - we don't see them on the news - they're not in TV programmes - so you're a whole lot more familiar with NY." Good points really. I wasn't worried about the veneration thing, but intrigued by it really. But I do feel like an o

Cruisey Day

I have had another cruisey day. I slept well till 5am when the Mullahs woke me with prayer. I at last got in to the compound of the Dome of the Rock today. Both the mosques are now permantly closed to all non muslims, which is a bit sad. But it was still an awesome expereince to be standing where the temple once stood, and to be standing on such a holy site for muslims. I also went back to Holy Sepulchre, with a bit more knowledge, and a bit less tired, and was able to enter into the whole experience a bit more. As I was sitting and praying outside the Dome of the Rock, I was reflecting though how even in the Christian holy sites, I feel like an outsider. I am not entering the experience as others are. To see people enter the tomb on their knees in prayer, venerating the cross, walking the via delarosa (I don't even know if that is spelt right) humbles me, and challenges my lack of veneration. I guess part of it is living in a place that has no holy sites as such. And part of


Hi all I am here in Jerusalem. I can hardly believe it! I have to admit I am feeling a little stuffed though. 24 hours flying, 5 hours in Hong Kong, and arriving in Israel at 4.20am didn't help much. To help the jet lag I had about 3 hours sleep, and then went cruising into the Old City. What an experience. I felt claustrophobic at times. I missed the gate I was supposed to go in (The Damscus Gate) and went in the New Gate, had no idea where I was, got even more lost in the tiny narrow little alleyways, and had a great time. I stumbled over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (where Christ is said to have been crucified, and buried and resurrected. It is multi layered, and kind of cool. But also really run down and scodie in lots of ways. The trouble is us Christians can't get together and agree on anything. Apparently a Muslim family hold the keys, and lock up each night and open it in the mroning. We can't even lock our own church!!! I have to say there was a really