Day 7 - The Palm Sunday Road, Garden of Gethsemane, Bethlehem, Church of the Nativity, Shepherds Field.
After a great night of cool breezes and some of our group taking walks around the city area in the heart of Jerusalem, we left the Dan Hotel at 8:15 a.m. and headed to the top of the Mount of Olives for the start of our 8th day. There we read about our Lord Jesus as he made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem the week of his Passion. We walked this same route which brought us to the Garden of Gethsemane. There we visited the Church of the Nations and witnessed an active service with Communion. In this church is the rock upon which Jesus stood as he prayed, "not my will, but thy will be done".
We were really blessed to have a very private time in a secluded part of the garden. There we discussed what it means to pray for His will. It was truly a beautiful moment visually, spiritually and communally.
Next we were on to Bethlehem! First we visited the Church of Nativity which was built in the 4th century over the manger site. Even though remodeling of the sanctuary is taking place, it's an impressive structure. Under the front of the church is where the traditional birthplace of Jesus is located. There, we almost had the site all to ourselves for just a few minutes as the crowds gathered. We sang and enjoyed a moment none of us will ever forget.
Leaving here, we ended the morning at an olive wood shop. We also ate lunch there and enjoyed great baklava… yummy!
Still in the Bethlehem area with our temporary Palestinian Guide, we stopped at the Shepherds' Fields. Here we visited the shepherds cave and read from Luke 2. We discussed what it means to be a shepherd of our own flocks back home. In the Shepherds Chapel we sang the Christmas Halleluiah Chorus. The acoustics were wonderful!
It took a little while to travel back out of the Palestinian controlled area into Israel again and with rain coming on the horizon and a long day planned for the Old City tomorrow… we decide to call it a day. It was wonderful in every way.