Friday, June 12, 2015

Day 5, Morning: Ascension, Lord’s Prayer, Weeping, the Garden and Prayer

We all gathered at the top of the Mount of Olives--actually we were walked into a small area by the
Chapel of the Ascension. We listened to the history of the location: Jew-Christians, then Christians, then Muslims, then Crusaders … and then we walked into the shrine, and on the floor was a stone. Ascension Rock, marking the earthly place Jesus ascended after death and resurrection, after his appearances to the Mary and the Disciples. We were told this stone had been venerated since that day – almost 2,000 years. We started to sing, “Oh Lord hear my prayer, Oh Lord hear my prayer, when I call answer me …” and then one by one, everyone was on their knees. Voices singing or praying. Hands on the stone. A few lips that kissed it.

Twenty minutes later, we were at the Shrine of the Lord’s Prayer … one of the two places Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer. We chanted the Lord’s Prayer. As I walked off alone, I sang the version of the Lord’s Prayer I taught the parish on Sunday before I left. I was surrounded by walls inscribed with over a hundred languages of the Lord’s Prayer.

After a short walk down the hill, we came to the chapel dedicated on the place where Jesus wept over Jerusalem. A mosaic with the hen protected its chicks is artfully placed on the center of the altar.

And then another short walk, and we were in the garden: the place where Jesus was betrayed. And the spot where the three disciples were unable to stay awake with him. The location where Jesus was arrested.

In each location, we were spellbound by the history, the unbelievable number of prayers offered at each place Jesus walked before us. It was not even 11 in the morning and we all seemed to be oversaturated with tears, prayers, hope and gratitude.

Then we journeyed from the Mount of Olives to the Wailing Wall, walking through the cemeteries for Jews, Christians and Muslims – an area were bodies are laid to be judged by God alone – before the possibility of their resurrection.

And throughout the morning, I was quiet. Hard to believe, is it not? (Miracles do happen.) I was quiet as my heart, mind and ears were filled with God’s voice: Feed my sheep. As I approached the Wailing Wall and set my forehead on the stone, I prayed for God to help us to be fearless in feeding other people. I prayed we would be willing to risk everything to bring the Good News to others. I was flooded with the countless prayers and cries I hear daily: Fr. Mark, I want my children and grandchildren to come to know Jesus. I want them to find strength in the relationship and joy of discovering that relationship in community – in Christian Community.

And then I took the small piece of paper, with my offering and prayers, folded up four times, and stuffed it between two rocks. And backed away. Overwhelmed that I had joined the chorus of humanity in a unique, sacred experience today – a chorus crying for peace, healing, courage and power over evil. 

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