Jerusalem: God Among Snow, Hail, and Sunshine; God Among Jews, Christians, and Muslims

Kate Lukaszewicz | Educator

Day 2 | 2022 Inside Israel: Educational Leadership Seminar

Today’s sojourn brought us to touchstones of intersecting histories. We braved March snow, a rarity in Jerusalem, to stand atop the Mount of Olives, staring across the valley towards the Temple Mount, another site for another day. Christian tradition holds that the Mount of Olives is the site from which Jesus Christ bodily ascended into Heaven, and Christian tradition holds that it is to this site that Christ will return for Judgment Day. The valley between the two Mounts holds a Jewish cemetery, and in their faith tradition, these bodies will be the first to be resurrected and to enter the Holy City. For Muslims, the two Mounts will be connected by a bridge the width of a single hair and the valley will be filled with flames; only the holiest will make it across the bridge. While the End of Day narratives of these three major monothestics faiths manifest differently, all three faiths spring from a singular devotion to the God of Abraham. 

Our bus descended Mount of Olives and our group alighted at the Basilica of the Agony, the Roman Catholic Church that marks the spot where Judas betrayed Christ to the Romans and set in motion Christ’s arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection, the bedrock of Christian theology, the timing appropriately apt for the Christians among our group who are in the Lenten season. We took in this story at the Garden of Gethsemane, beneath a reprieve of sunshine, before stepping into the Basilica during an English-language Mass as the priest was preparing the Eucharist and the congregants were praying the “Our Father.” It was providential timing. 

Avi at City of David

Much of our day was spent in the ancient City of David, land of the great Jewish king, a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ and an important prophet in Islam. We encountered excavation sites whose discoveries date to the era of the First Temple, built by the wise King Solomon.  We wove in and out of the ancient tunnels, exposing ourselves to sunshine, wind, drizzle, and, at one point, bouncing hail. But it was in a moment of sunshine that our tour guide Avi let us linger, listening to the adhan, the Muslim call to prayer at 11:48 am; this Dhuhr prayer marks the sun at its highest point at the sky. It was awesome, I thought, to hear one faith’s holy call to prayer while standing in a site so central to other faiths. And in so many places in Jerusalem this week, playful reminders that Purim is approaching, a joyful holy day within Judaism. Adhan- Muslim Call to Prayer

In these faiths, the prayers, celebrations, and lamentations are expressed differently, but there is devotion to the same God of Abraham, steadfast for these faith-filled peoples, no matter the religion and no matter the weather.

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