Tuesday, July 12, 2011

June 29 continued: Ancient Stairs and the Upper Room

Peter and Brian reenact Jesus telling Peter he will deny him three times
After lunch and our coffee break we went back to following Jesus's last days.  We visited the "Church of the Cock Crow" (Sancti Petri in Gallicantu) that references Jesus's claim that Peter would deny Him three times before the cock crowed (Matthew 26:34).   Most likely this church is the location of the high priests house where Jesus was first tried.  Jewish law would have prohibited any sentencing after dark, so He was put into a pit overnight and then tried first thing in the morning.   The church was beautiful and then we descended into the pit.  It is tradition to read Psalm 88 in this place.  When John was done reading the Psalm, the lights were turned off and we reflected silently in the dark pit.

LORD, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
I am overwhelmed with troubles
and my life draws near to death.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am like one without strength.
I am set apart with the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
who are cut off from your care.
You have put me in the lowest pit,
in the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily on me;
you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
You have taken from me my closest friends
and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
my eyes are dim with grief.
I call to you, LORD, every day;
I spread out my hands to you.
Do you show your wonders to the dead?
Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
Is your love declared in the grave,
your faithfulness in Destruction?
Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
But I cry to you for help, LORD;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Why, LORD, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?
From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
I have borne your terrors and am in despair.
Your wrath has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me.
All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.
You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
darkness is my closest friend.

"No, I don't know him."
Outside of the church are the 'holy stairs.'  These stairs do date to the time of Jesus and were the ones that He walked on going in to Jerusalem. 

My feet where Jesus walked

Leaving St. Peter's we went to Mount Zion.  The big site here is the Coenaculum which is believed to be the room of the Last Supper.  The room in question was also used as a mosque later on in history.  The building is part of a Crusader Abbey (interesting fact - during crusader times the pelican was a sign of Christ because the mother pelican will give of her flesh to her chicks).    The Upper Room commemorates a variety of stories from the Bible including: washing feet, the breaking of bread, the descent of the Holy Spirit (pentacost), doubting Thomas, Jesus telling Judas he would betray him and Jesus telling Peter he would deny him.   The story of the Pentacost in Acts 2 was another fulfillment of a story in the Old Testament.  In the OT in the story of the tower of Babylon, people are cursed with different languages so they can't understand each other.  In the New Testament story of the the Pentacost in Acts 2, the crowd comes together with each person able to understand the story in their own tongue (the church universal is brought together in Christ).    We also had a chance to visit King David's Tomb - a big site for both Jewish and Muslim pilgrims (and in fact the only place on the entire trip where as women we needed to cover our hair). 

Olive Tree art in the Upper Room was a gift from Pope John Paul II
The tree symbolizes that Christianity, Judaism and Islam all stem from the same root
After visiting the Upper Room we were free for the afternoon and I headed to the market with Brian and Ashley.  We did some bartering for gifts to take home and then headed to a bakery in the Jewish Quarter that I found on Tuesday.   I have no idea what the name of the bakery is - all the signage was in Hebrew.  But just turn right by the Armenian restaurant go down the long alley, dodge the school kids, go down the stairs by the fruit shop and then turn right and you'll be there.   The pastries were AMAZING!  No wonder I was jumping for joy.


Thank you Ashley for taking this great picture!

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