Sunday, November 14, 2010



Early visit to the Holy Sepulchre with Phyllis, Ken, Kaye and Cathy. Time with the Ethiopians, Greeks (beware the man with the fez and silver stick) and Franciscans and then Mass at S. George’s Cathedral. The readings couldn’t have been more appropriate and the sermon addressed the issue of persecution of Christians in Iraq in a way that pointed out the positive influence of this small community in the Middle East.

Lunch was at the Jerusalem Hotel and then on to the Jeel al-Amal Boys Home in Bethany. Here, as in many other places, Christians and Muslims work together for the benefit of others and the group were introduced to the plight of Palestinians in a way that they will continue to experience first-hand. Afterwards we were able to visit the Church of Mary, Martha and Lazarus before coffee in the ‘real’ arab tent – diwans et al.

Tonight’s processing of the day after dinner led to some difficult discussions. I should have explained more about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre before we made our first visit but the difficulty of encountering the crowds of such a wide variety of different cultural expressions of faith cannot be understood without experiencing it. I was also grateful to Basaam for pointing out that this is a pilgrimage, not a tour, as well as his comments that the Temple buildings are not important to Christians as we have Christ as the true Temple.

Finally I reflected on the contrast between society here and back home. I was reminded of the lack of violence, drunkenness etc. in the streets and the way in which (by and large) people respect each others, not least visitors like us.

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