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Lite Day, Heavy Night. Today is 12/28/09 in Jerusalem

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Walking to the churches outside the Old City on the northwest side of town. The first two are closed (abandoned), and the third is Anglican and rather plain.

I arrive at the Ethiopian Church in the middle of a prayer service (it is an Ethiopian holiday) and although I am not allowed to enter today, I was able to get some images that are terrific in showing the reverence in the Ethiopian worship while hearing the African rhythm and sound of the prayer.

On the steps outside I meet Janika (Estonian & Orthodox) and Phil (Norway & Lutheran) both traveled here for different reasons. Phil is a writer whose first book he says was too depressing (paralleling life in Norway) working on a second book that is happier and Janika is studying, a Theology student: Both are heavy world travelers, and if either is 22 I would be amazed! They are courageous as the places they go with just a backpack are places I would not venture. Phil tells a story of some friends of his who recently venturing through Afghanistan, were encountered by a unit of US soldiers hunting Al-Qaeda … both of these kids hitchhike and are far more adventurous than I as I tend to be suspect of people and far more mistrusting when I travel. Maybe it is different traveling the Hostel circuit among other youths.

From Janika’s talking and Phil’s sharing of information about Athos Greece, the idea comes to maybe plan and raise the capital for a tour documenting the consecrated of the original Patriarchal regions, Rome, Constantinople, Armenia, Greece, Russia, (I need to do some research – maybe Ethiopia) – That would require a LOT of help and financial support. Janika may have a means to help with access to Athos. This would require permissions – like with St. James in teh Armenian Quarter of the Old City,

We exchange contact and part.

At the Russian compound, the Moscovite style church is also closed but may be accessible come Wednesday when I plan to walk the Mea Shearim.

I am back at the rampart walk to use my second day ticket for the opposite side of the Old City walk, looking for some good city photos, but alas, the other side from the night before was the better side. Though the Zion Gate to Dung Gate walk has some great views, they are views and building I already have better shots off.

Today is a lite day for images and I have less than 250.

I manage my way back to the Sisters Bridgettine and this is the first time I am in before dark.

I am exhausted. I am ready to sleep at 5pm.

I listen to Nils and Barbara (who just returned) tell of their wonderful time in Bethlehem – midnight mass in St. Catherine’s, mass in the birth grotto (a private mass), etc, and that I should have called them.

Dinner is delicious.

The Austrian Sister (I don’t know her name) invites us to go hear a Messianic Jew speak on the situation in Israel… I say I am game and she (through a translator) says we need to leave in 5 minutes. I wolf down my food. Translation is a bit sketchy so I am not sure what I am going to see or hear.

I find myself in the Arab section at the Holy Land Hotel, 4th floor, conference room, a faded photo of the Dome of the Rock on the wall behind the Messianic Jewish couple, Eddie and Jackie from New York (14 years ago) surrounded by northern Europeans speaking Dutch (or German, or Austrian) singing Christian praise songs to a guitar. Eventually, Eddie gives his and Jackie’s history/ testimonies/ Bible study lesson on end time’s Messianic prophecy before opening the floor to questions.

Eddie is an evangelist, pushing hard to convert ALL Jews, saying this is the only way to fulfill God’s promise in Ezekial, when all the Jews are returned to Israel and in relationship with Him, that Jesus will touch foot on the Mount of Olives.

Some of what Eddie preaches doesn’t sit right with what I have read and I am suspicious of his motive and game.

I ask the question of why the religious discrimination of Jews who are Christians making Aliyah.

I find out that there is a law passed by the Israeli government in 1989 that states any Jew baptized in Christianity gives up their right to “Law of Return” and that the Rabbis in charge also state that for a Jew to do so, one is no longer a Jew.

That explains my experience at Aliyah in Los Angeles, recorded when I first started my daily logging.

I think, if one is born of a heredity, as Jews state, legally one is a Jew through the mother, then this is a political oppression and a man made rejection, stinking of pride and arrogance, not love and acceptance. It is explained to me that the persecution by Christians of the Jews over the millennia, and all the forced conversions by Christian organizations and missionaries has brought this about..

I am really upset by this and this clouds everything else I heard tonight. The whole evening, though well intentioned I am sure, and heartfelt too, felt twisted to my sensors. Something was wrong there.

I do not return to my room in a good mood for the time spent there, though I do appreciate the extra information and experience gleaned. I pray while I walk to keep God in charge of my life (not man) and submit myself to His timing and placement – this puts me in a better and more appropriate space. But it is a struggle.

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One Comment

  1. mike thornton
    Posted December 29, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Jeff,

    I heard a sermon the other day while listening to the times square church website, tscnyc.org the Pastor carter conlon was talking about ” when we think God isn’t listening or present in our lives” It made me think of your trip and how it seems unorganized or frustrating ( according to your posts) I thought about you and felt confident that God was right in the center of all you are doing despite what you are feeling. I was glad as i thought about your mission and the experiences you are going through. After reading today’s post, I was encouraged how you asked God to be in control and not let all the crap you hear from every Tom, Dick, and Muhammed influence you. The great thing about understanding the Christian life is we have the Bible, regardless of what we hear or what we feel we can fall back on Gods word for comfort. Be a light and let your faith be known, the truth never contradicts. Be a light for Jesus and a prick when you have to. Love you bro, keep grinding. Mike

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