Today's travel schedule was really a prelude to the big event we've been moving toward all week: the Palm Sunday procession. We met this morning on the top of the Mount of Olives overlooking the Garden of Gethsemane and opposite of the famous picture of the city of Jerusalem. After enjoying 80 to 90 degree weather all week, we were brutally introduced to the high winds and sudden shifts of temperature and climate that Jerusalem can offer. It was terrifically windy and of course, cold. We were huddled masses, I'll tell you (I'm remembering a quote from my daughter when I complained about the cold wind near the Syrian/Israeli border - "Suck it up, buttercup - you're from Minnesota". Yeah, she set me straight - I was okay after that.)
When I say we got a prelude to tomorrow's procession, I mean a prelude - it was a bit like it's going to be but nothing like it's going to be. There were a lot of groups there this morning, rehearsing and preparing for the main event tomorrow. Many nations. Many denominations. Many difference expressions and levels of faith. All there to celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The pathway was steep and the high winds, cold and misting rain didn't help at all. But it hasn't dampened our spirits as we prepare for the highlight of our trip.
I'm planning on sending a video to First United Methodist Church's YouTube channel, so tune in there to view it (sometime after 10:30 a.m. tomorrow morning). We are trying to coordinate sending our video feed to this site and we hope it will work before worship at 10:30 a.m. You can go that site anytime and subscribe to the channel - no cost, just the time it takes to connect. Hopefully it will send a notice that says the video has been uploaded.
We visited some other important sights and locations, but the one that was most meaningful to me was St. Anne's Church in Jerusalem - right by the Pools of Bethesda. I stood outside of the church, wondering about the story of the man that Jesus healed by telling him to take up his mat and walk (which he did and he was healed). I couldn't help but selfishly think about my own physical situation. We've been walking an awful lot here in the Holy Land. I've been diagnosed with a mild form of arthritis in both knees and now my left hip. Some days it's been painful. Sometimes it's okay. I really wondered what it would be like to be completely healthy again - I know, it was selfish on my part. But don't you think it's natural to wonder about such things when you are standing on such a meaningful location, wondering what it must have been like?
Later that evening, I heard one of our group talking about the challenges of walking. Her husband struggles with chronic pain, similar to mine. But his comment to her was "I need to suck it up..." [what is it with Minnesota people and sucking it up?] "...because it's just a little bit of pain compared to what Jesus did for me."
He was so right. What a jerk I am for thinking about my own needs when Jesus sacrificed his very life for what should really be mine. And yet, that's why Jesus came - yes, for people who wonder about being healed and one day will be. I can be more than okay with that knowledge.
We were inside the church (St. Anne's) when Erin [my daughter] sang one verse which really speaks to the above. I was glad to hear her sing again. It did a great deal to help me work through my own pain - lame as it may be. Listen to her here and I wonder if you won't agree.
I can deal with my physical pain because it is well with my soul.