The Land Between

Derek Kliewer

The rich history of Jerusalem is apparent on every single side of the city, the outskirts, and within the city itself.  Our group spent a large portion of the day traveling around different outlying areas of Jerusalem, taking in breathtaking views, sacred sites, and archaeological remains.  The history of every site was detailed exquisitely by Dr. Schultz, whose knowledge of the ancient world and how it has led to today astonished me at every turn.  We began the day in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity, the site that is believed to be the exact location that Jesus was born (the picture of me by the small door is the entrance to the church).  To get to this site, we had to cross from Israel to the West Bank, through the wall and layers of security.  In a way, it is sad to see the beauty and history of this land mired by politics and torn by division. From here, we traveled to the Shepherd’s Field, a site currently under excavation that commemorates the shepherds who were called by the angels to find the newborn child.  Then, we traveled back to the outskirts of Jerusalem to the Herodian, a fortress built by King Herod the Great to protect himself and to demonstrate his magnificence (picture of ruins).  Based on the appearance and height of the man-made mount, Herod’s magnificence would have been apparent to all of his subjects.  The ruins of Herod’s fortress were amazing to see and touch, and demonstrated his opulence, influence, and paranoia.  We also were able to visit the remains of his tomb, just outside his fortress.  Finally, in what had to be the most meaningful place of the day in my own personal faith, we visited the Mount of Olives, where Jesus spent his final hours.  Here, we were able to see a great view of the Old City (landscape of Jerusalem), and personally reflect at the Garden of Gethsemane, where several beautiful churches by different denominations have been constructed.  Hearing Dr. Schultz retell the story of Jesus’ betrayal, his conviction and crucifixion while actually being in the very place that it happened was transforming.  I feel that in this trip, I am not just learning about the backgrounds and geography of the land (of which my pages of furious note-taking proves that I am), I am also enriching my own faith, bringing it to life in the Land Between.unnamed (1) unnamedImage-1

 

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