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St. James & History Lessons. Today is 12/26/09 in Jerusalem

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Sunrise is beautiful. I leave early for St James, Armenian Orthodox… the oldest Christian church in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is waking up for her busy day. Roosters are crowing.

On the streets, bread merchants abound… one of these mornings I am going to try one of these sesame loafs.

Stop at the Coptic Church atop the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for a morning shot.

Make St. James at 7:50am – I hear singing from behind the heavy blanketed doors, morning mass is already in progress.

The singing is spectacular: a choir/cantor polyphonic chanting (in Armenian I suppose, with out asking questions).

mg_5012lefever_j_bsavon_dl I am staying to the sides as instructed, and take a few photos trying not to disturb the congregants their. Three times I am told no photos, and three times I try to explain I have permission from the Bishop. One of the higher-ranking priests walks over to the Bishop during the mass (and I follow), and asks him about it. Bishop Sevon, in blue embroidered rob with pointed hood, turns around to see me, and nods. It is official.

Mass ends, and Bishop Sevon finds me, takes my hand and arm, and leads me to the alter explaining things about St. James; the beheaded Patriarch, the alter, the chair that James sat in (that no one sits in – and once a year only the Arch Bishop will stand before it for a special service).

He went on to explain about James (Yacov/Jacob/Jacque), the brother of Christ Jesus, head of the messianic Jewish believers of Jerusalem in the early 1st century church (contemporary of Paul), was not a brother by blood but by association, like a brother in a fraternity, or an order. Then he asked me, if I had a holy Chalice, would I use it for everyday drink? Or if I had a plate that was consecrated to the Holy, would I use it for daily or casual eating? The same with Mary’s womb. It carried the Holy – God consecrated Mary – she was a virgin.

He takes me over to where the chapel of the beheaded James (and I am not sure, as English was a little lost here, but either the head is hear or this is the spot marking the beheading). Slaps me on the back and says, “take your pictures” and he leaves.

IF ONLY – I were to receive this kind of acceptance and partnership from other church leaders… (This is rarely the case, but then, I rarely take the time and days to set up appointment and permissions, trying to cover as many properties at random as I can on any given trip – much less official, much more led by the spirit of the day – maybe for Italy, I will try to make things more official?).

Ten minutes pass and the church closes – I am ushered out but told I can return at 3pm to continue.

I walk over to the Jaffa gate area and Christ Church to catch the 10am Messianic Jewish service. When I get there, I am told that because of Christmas, no service today.

Seeing my disappointment, Maureen, offers me a coffee, and sits me down to watch a video called, “The Destiny of Britain.” And the role Britain played in restoring the Jews to Jerusalem. Now I did not know any of this and it was fascinating. Christ Church, established in the 19th century well before the Jewish Nation in 1949 or 67 was proclaimed, played a huge role in this from the organizations involved prior to its construction. But what was really fascinating to me was that it was not necessarily benevolent or charitable because of prophets scripture (as a motive to act), but the area Jerusalem occupied was a strategic middle ground to protect Britain’s interests in India and guard the Suez Canal from French and Russian considerations all well prior to the first world war. Setting up British territory as a buffer – keeping a military outpost… sound familiar? Well, in the video, this is partly a way of having the area to give to the Jews, according to the Biblical organizations involved in the restoration of a Jewish State…

There is more – but I kept getting distracted by groups coming into the main room where I was sitting making it hard to hear the video. Eventually I am asked to pause it for a while for a group meeting (as the sound from the video is distracting their business). I never saw most of part 2 and decide I will buy the video from online when I get home and maybe clarify what I mentioned here (in my own mind).

I go outside to the back garden patio.

I am asked if I need help looking for something. I begin talking with Elisheva and she is a tour guide _mg_5115lefever_j_eli_dl of sorts – she is of Hungarian Jewish roots (1/4 of what I am on my grandfather’s side) and she is messianic…she also came here to go to the 10am service.

Eli begins to tell me about her studies and the actual sites believed to be the burial and crucifixion of Yeheshua (Yeshua / Joshua / Jesus). That it is actually on the Mt. of Olives, not the places marked by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

I buy her lunch at the kitchen/eating hall at Christ Church (best meal I have had in two weeks) and I take notes.

We continue off to where she is staying as she says they may have a vacancy – it is at Caiaphas’ house and the place of the Essenes by the steps where Jesus was walked after his arrest from Gethsemane, and the way she describes it sounds like I may want to switch locations for the remainder of the trip. I really like the Sister Bridgettine, it is just its location that bothers me.

Caiaphas’s house turns out to be the place I said I wanted to live at St. Peter’s over looking the eastern and southern parts of Jerusalem.

Turns out there are no vacancies. But what an interesting turn of events if there were. Once again I am overlooking the Kidron Valley from this prime location and I know in the future there are rooms to rent here.

It is almost 3 so I head back to St. James with my new friend who has never been able to get in to see St James (it is only open for masses).

There is a different mass going on.

Afterward, I am given the time I need to finish. I am told they are happy I am taking pictures.

Eli takes me around to a few other places and gives me a few other interesting historical note of what is going on here… such as a letter that the head Rabi of the Kabbalah study center left to be opened 1 year after his death, that announced the coming messiah and date of his arrival… when it was opened, the name revealed was Yeheshua and the date was when Sharon would be taken off life support…(??). The letter was rebuffed of course as a fake as it would suggest that the head of this Jewish Mystery Knowledge would have been a Christian even though there are controversies abounding that the latter years of his life he taught Christian things without outwardly preaching Christianity.

All very interesting. Eli says she will mail me information and copies of research.

xg5z2871lefever_j_morning_dl_0 She shows me where I can eat for free. She shows me a Messianic Synagog and invites me to attend a noon service here tomorrow. We walk past an ally and I see that there is an amazing sunset light on Eastern hills and part to explore finding a good shot of the Dome of the Rock.

I head back to Sister’s for dinner.

Dinner is good tonight.

Trying to edit images after dinner but can’t stay awake – it is only 9pm

I just want to sleep.

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One Comment

  1. Rita
    Posted December 29, 2009 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    I liked the way you described Bishop Sevon! I’m glad you made it to the Armenian Church…Great pictures Jeff!

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