Jim found the envelope that had been shoved under their door. He read it out loud to Katrina, who found it very encouraging. Ralph was walking down the hall toward the elevator as they left their room. He asked them if they had already eaten breakfast and seemed positively glad that they would join him.
As they reached the elevator, Ralph said, “I’ll bet the hotel restaurant is quite crowded at this time. I saw a nice little coffee shop yesterday. It’s rather close by and looked like a nice place.” Ralph was not sure why he wanted to go there, but he felt like it was a place he should go. Jim and Katrina were agreeable, so they headed down to the street.
The little coffee shop was busy, but not too crowded. They found a table, some wonderful coffee and some tasty little breakfast buns. Some of them were cinnamon and nutmeg, others were anise; both kinds were superb with the coffee. They were enjoying their second cup when a young man holding a cup of coffee and a sweet bun asked if he could sit with them. Jim indicated that was okay.
Somehow, their conversation had drifted onto the topic of the movie, Schindler’s List. The student, whose name was Isaac, told them that Oskar Schindler’s grave was withing walking distance. Ralph was surprised, saying, “I thought the movie was good, but that Schindler was a composite of a number of people. I’d like to see it.”
When the student told them where it was located, Katrina said, “Good. Let’s go there. Then we could go to Mount Zion. I’d really like to see the holy mountain.” They said good-bye to Isaac and headed into Jerusalem.
It was a good hike to Oskar Schindler’s Grave site, taking about an hour or so. The route was mostly tiny streets and an apparent footpath, paved indiscriminately, sometimes with paving stones, other times with asphalt. Their hike took them past Gethsemane, Absalom’s Tomb and strangely, the Akeldama Monastery. Jim commented that Jerusalem celebrates everyone, including Judas. “It really does feel odd,” he said, “to walk down a street in the valley that gave it’s name to Hell.”
They found the Protestant Cemetery and then their destination. Ralph stared at the grave site. It was very odd to see the evidence that the man was a real person. He really did do what the movie depicted.“Sometimes, you wonder if The Holocaust could be real. Could any humans do what is said they did? Some won’t believe this grave. Some won’t believe Corrie Ten Boom or Anne Frank. Why not? They won’t believe an empty tomb.” Ralph was feeling very emotional at the site of the grave of a man he had thought was the product of Hollywood’s imagination. All three of them were disturbed by The Holocaust. How could people do such a thing?
They wandered up the street toward the Zion Gate. Not wanting to go to the Chamber of the Holocaust, they walked over to King David’s Statue. While they were meandering down the street, they met a group of men, apparently students. One of them they recognized as Isaac. They called out ‘Hello’ to him. He looked flustered for a moment, then spoke to the man that seemed to be leading them. Isaac explained that he was in a class and they were going to the site of the first Christian church. After explaining what his three acquaintances were doing, his professor said they they could join them.
They were amazed to find that, apparently, the birthplace of the Christian Church was pretty much a shambles. It had been cleaned up, some, but the site was periodically attacked. Inside they found an archeological site which was purported to be the site of the Pentecost event where the Disciples were Speaking in Tongues, so that each person could hear the Gospel in their own language. The three adventurers were overcome.
The site had a Mikvah, where the first Christians were baptized. Apparently, it had been used as a site of worship for many years after that first Pentecost. They stood, looking at what was a most Holy site, now in ruins. The professor was a short distance away, lecturing his students about the place.
They could hear him saying, “…so, desiring to obey their risen Lord…” he waved his hand at the archeological site, “…they began to meet for worship on Sunday mornings. One of them would preside over the Holy Meal, the others would confirm what the president was proclaiming. Some theory is that one man cannot preside over the sacrament the way Jesus did. At the Last Supper it took Jesus to proclaim His Body and Blood, so, also, it takes the entire Body of Christ to proclaim His Body and Blood. That’s why this site, why Pentecost is so important. Only those who had spoken in Tongues were recognized to be members of the Body of Christ.” The teacher paused for a moment and then said, “So, that’s how it started. By the time St. Paul was writing to the Corinthians the gift of Tongues had become a confusion. So, for your next assignment, please compare how the Eucharist was first celebrated by the Apostles, how it was celebrated by St. Paul and then what Justin Martyr tells us about it. I want some detail…” His voice was muffled by the walls as the teacher and his students walked away.
Ralph, Jim and Katrina stared speechless at each other. Then, simultaneously, they began to laugh. What the professor had told his three students was the object of their adventure. Or, at least a part of it. Joy filled their hearts. Suddenly, Katrina said, “We were guided here!” The two men looked at her in astonishment and then nodded in agreement.
Isaac called out to them, “You must leave now. I hope you like what you found here.” They quickly joined him and the professor locked up the site. The group of students headed toward the Cenacle, the other site that claimed to be the “Upper Room”. Jim said it first, “I’m hungry.” Katrina and Ralph agreed that they needed to find some lunch.
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Phillip woke up very early, headed to the restaurant for coffee and found that it was not open. He took the elevator to the ground floor and found Tom in the lobby, sipping a cup of coffee. Tom pointed to a little alcove and said, “In there.” Phillip found coffee, juice and some questionable buns. He fixed himself a cup of coffee.
Taking a chair near Tom, Phillip sipped his coffee but said nothing. Soon the hot beverage began to awaken him and he asked Tom, “Well, do you want to wait for the restaurant to open or would you like to find a cafe and get some breakfast?”
Tom took a final sip of his coffee and said, “I read the note that was shoved under our doors. I’m not sure what the Holy Spirit wants, but I would like to visit The Hebrew Music Museum. It is about an hour walk from here. However, it does not open until ten o’clock.” He handed Phillip a tourist map of Jerusalem. “We could meander through the Old City and check out the Temple Mount, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, all the usual spots and maybe some not so usual. Maybe go to the museum after lunch…what do you think?”
Phillip nodded, then said, “I play guitar in our church band. I’ve always wondered about the lyre or harp that David played. It sounds like a great idea to me.” Then he added, “I saw a review for a little cafe near the Hebrew University, it’s about a mile from here and not exactly the direction we were planning to go, so, if you’re not starving, we could head over there.”
After a moment, Tom suggested a taxi, since he was hungry. So they called a taxi and were at the cafe in a few minutes. The coffee was excellent, the breakfast special was delicious and the two men had a beautiful start to their day.
It also seemed like a good idea to take a taxi to one of the gates into Old Jerusalem. Their taxi driver suggested the Lion’s Gate, since it was both the closest gate and it put them near the northeast corner. They could meander to the south and then back to the northwest, where the music museum was located. Because they had mentioned music, their driver also suggested that the Lion’s Gate would be a good spot, since it was very close to St. Anne’s Church, which has marvelous acoustics.
The ancient walls of Jerusalem surround a rather small area. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from the Lions’ Gate to the Zion Gate. So they took their time, meandering past the Western Wall and The Dome of the Rock, they found an archeological museum, book and jewelry stores, several synagogues. Tom commented that, in some ways, Jerusalem was like Disneyland.
Approaching the Dung Gate, they took a northerly direction, looking for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Their walk took them past a large number of Christian church buildings. Some were, of course, Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox; but there were Coptic, Armenian Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox as well as the Western Protestant denominations like Anglican, Lutheran, and all the various Evangelical groups. They even found a Lutheran Church that called itself the “Danish Church”.
Phillip remembered their discussion about the US Military and how the Army and Navy had different perspectives, but they served the same Commander-In-Chief. That seemed very likely as they toured the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was a combined effort of several denominations. However, none of the denominations were Evangelical. So he suggested they take the time to visit the Garden Tomb.
Tom found the Garden Tomb fascinating. “This is what I thought the Holy Sepulchre would look like. It may not be the ‘right place’ as some claim, but it has the right atmosphere.” Phillip agreed, but wondered why his Evangelical ancestors thought they needed a different site. He wondered if Tom was right about Disneyland.
Their walk to the music museum took them through a part of Jerusalem that looked like many European cities. Streets were much wider. The atmosphere was newer, much more recent in time. Gone was the Disneyland/tourist-trap feeling. They stopped at a falafel restaurant. Tom found the falafel stuffed into pita bread quite satisfying. Phillip thought they were nice, but not quite the same as a hamburger. Most of the customers were apparently regulars.
Phillip began to think about “place” in a different way. It was rather a vague thought, but there was something about “place” that he felt was important. One thing was very much apparent. The ancient city, like Disneyland, was a destination in and of itself. Zion Square, Jaffa Street and the general area around the Music Museum seemed oriented toward ‘night life’ with lots of restaurants, cafes, pubs all centered around street musicians and venues for indoor and outdoor performances. This was another type of ‘place’; a sort of community type place.
“Place” took on new shades of meaning inside the museum. It depicted music and musical instruments from various places around the world. Both men found their understanding of music enriched. Variety was the order of the day, but underneath the variety was a structure, a common bond, a unity that could not be expressed in just one way. Eventually they found their way to one of the music/eating venues in the square that was a part of the museum, refreshing themselves with some wonderful Israeli wine and cheese.
As it was rather late in the afternoon, they decided to take a taxi back to the hotel. That gave them about an hour before they were to meet for dinner. Plenty of time for prayer. Both of them were unsure about what they could contribute to the evening’s discussion, but they realized that they had been guided by the Holy Spirit all day. It seemed like anticipation would make prayer a bit difficult; but, once in the privacy of the hotel room, prayer came easy.
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By seven-thirty, everyone was in the restaurant. Dinner was served to a setting sun. The conversation began as the stars came out. The members of each group stood up and described for all the events of their day, centering on the aspects of the day that had bearing on the topic of our adventure. As Ralph and Tom concluded their report, the Holy Spirit ‘nudged’ me. So I stood up and said, “Well, that’s a lot to ponder. Let’s pray about what we should do next.” The consensus was that each group should write a report and give it to me.
Tom stood up and said, “Well, there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. I want to invite everyone to join me tomorrow for lunch at the Music Square. After lunch we can enjoy a concert. I’d like to end this on a positive note. And, based on what I’ve heard tonight, I think we have the answers we need.” He looked at me and asked, “What do you think? Are we about ready to hike back to the trailhead?”
My reply was that it was up to the group. Everyone wanted to join Tom for lunch. It was also apparent that everyone was exhausted: we headed to our rooms and a good night’s sleep.
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I found the “First Church” site on Google Maps. It is, apparently, the property of the Greek Orthodox Church. I found “Danny The Digger” online. That site has a video of the ‘First Church’ ruins that is both depressing and interesting. His site does offer tours. I do not know anything about them. I linked to that site because of the video of the First Church ruins. For a video of the “First Church” site, Link to Danny The Digger
For more information on the Hebrew Music Museum, LINK to THE HEBREW MUSIC MUSEUM. **I accidentally stumbled on this site while researching the places for each group to visit. The Holy Spirit let me know it was important to the story, but I could not work it in. Only when I began to write Tom and Ralph’s events did it come to my mind that they would visit the museum. I recommend that you visit the website. It’s amazing.
For more info on the Akeldama Monastery USE THIS LINK.
Note: Gehenna (or Hinnom?) is mentioned in Young’s Literal Translation 12 times. This includes Matthew 5:22, 5:29, 10:28, 18:9, Mark 9:45, Luke 12:5 and James 3:6. **This, also, is one of those sites I had found but did not know how to use it in the story. When I was tracing the route that Jim’s group would take I saw the monastery on the map and thought I’d add a comment about it. This sort of thing happened over and over as I attempted to write down this adventure.
Finally, a word from Justin Martyr, who was born in 100 AD and died in 165 AD. Wikipedia LINK: Below are three paragraphs or chapters in which Justin Martyr provides an account of how Eucharist/The Lord’s Supper/Communion was observed. (This is one of the earliest records, except, of course, for the Biblical record.) I think it is worth our reading. I found the following in The Christian Classics Ethereal Library https://ccel.org/ The exact link follows each chapter.
Chapter LXV.—Administration of the sacraments.
But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss.1908 There is then brought to the president of the brethren1909 bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to γένοιτο [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion. Justin Martyr CCEL LINK to #LXV
Chapter LXVI.—Of the Eucharist.
And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία1910 [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.1911 For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me,1912 this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn. Justin Martyr CCEL LINK to #LXVI
Chapter LXVII.—Weekly worship of the Christians.
And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son 186 Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday,1913 all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability,1914 and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given,1915 and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration. Justin Martyr CCEL LINK to #LXVII
I would like to add a clarification about the word “president”. From my research, it seems that one of the “presbyters” or “elders” (See Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus) was selected to be the person who celebrates. This position may have rotated among the elders at first, but eventually the “president” became known as the “bishop” or the senior or lead pastor of the congregation. Considering what Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus, we know that the presbyters were ordained by the “laying on of hands” and had a special place in the congregation. These presbyters performed the functions of the office that we, today call a ‘priest’ or ‘preacher’. In some denominations there are ‘deacons’ who function more or less as the presbyters functioned in the Church during the time of Justin Martyr. The ‘Deacons’ Justin Martyr refers to seem to be a special class of clergy that did not have the authority to preside over the Eucharist, but did have the authority to take the blessed Elements to those who could not attend.
…And now, the hike home.