Do We Really Get to Do This Every Week?

February 15, 2007

After an experience like last Wednesday’s field trip, you wake up on field trip days with a sense of expectation. You do not know exactly what is going to happen, but you do know that you are about to have one of the best days of your life.

In many ways, our semester of field trips centers around Jerusalem. We start with three field trips there and then begin to branch out before taking long trips to the Negev and Galilee near the end of the semester. This week’s field trip was called “Jerusalem Approaches.”

We loaded up the bus early in the morning and headed for the Mount of Olives. Let me just say that it is a good thing they weren’t serving McGriddles for breakfast on the moshav. After we arrived at the Mount of Olives, we traced the route Jesus would have taken as he travelled to and from Jerusalem and Bethany during the last week of his life. We stopped at a few churches along the way. The “Pater Noster” church has the Lord’s Prayer in over 100 languages, but none of us found English. The church called “Dominus Flevit” commemorates Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem, and the Church of All Nations sits at the bottom of the mount right next to the Garden of Gethsemane. You have a pretty stellar view of the Old City from the Mount of Olives, so I took advantage of this picture from inside Dominus Flevit. In the background you can pick out both the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (the two gray domes just to the right of the Dome of the Rock.)

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We loaded back onto the bus and headed for the not-so-little-town of Bethlehem. Todd warned us to not expect too much, and he had a point. The main attraction here is the Church of the Nativity. You feel a bit disappointed that the scene of Jesus’ birth is now crowded by shops and a large “bells-and-smells” church, but at the same time you enjoy being able to ponder that good news of great joy that a Savior has been born in the place where he was actually born! Here is a pic of me next to a star that “marks the spot” where he was born. Odds that this is the actual spot…not so much.

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As we explored the church, we came across a room that was once Jerome’s study. He translated the Latin Vulgate (an early translation of the Bible.) There we sang “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” I enjoyed singing a familiar song that expressed adoration for Christ in such a different setting.

Near the city of Bethlehem, a large, man-made hill rises above the land. This is Herodium, a fortress/palace built by Herod the Great. Everything I have seen so far that was built by Herod has been impressive. I think I’ll put up a whole post about this spot.

Our next stop was at the “Pools of Solomon.” The pools actually have nothing to do with Solomon, but they were a part of a monumental aqueduct system that brought water to Jerusalem in the time of Christ. Three pools, each bigger than the next, now sit unused in the middle of a forest, but these things a massive. Here is a picture of one, and if you look carefully, you can pic out someone walking through the ginormous pool. Look really carefully.

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At this point, Todd pulled out an unexpected stop. We headed up North to the biblical site of Shiloh. The tabernacle rested here for about 300 years! This is the setting for the stories of Samuel and Eli. In some ways, the site is unimpressive–just a few remains dot an otherwise deserted hillside–but in many ways, this was one of my favorite spots that we have seen. Shiloh is untarnished. It is not surrounded by a huge city or covered by a church. In many ways, the surrounding region is much like it was 3000 years ago when the tabernacle was there.

We spent a little bit of time here and even reenacted a biblical story from Judges 21:16-24. That was a little weird, but overall it was a very enjoyable spot. This is a picture of me sitting upon a hill where the tabernacle most likely stood and watching a beautiful sunset of another awesome IBEX day.

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2 Responses to “Do We Really Get to Do This Every Week?”

  1. Ben, I love your narration of the week! It sounds like a really inspiring time getting to see all these places. We’ll miss you at Tyler’s 1st birthday this weekend, but I’ll send you some pics. Have a great weekend, Ben, we’re praying for you!

  2. Bri said

    Your posts fill me with thrillment everytime 🙂
    i hate u, J!

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