Monday, April 9, 2018

April A to Z Blog Challenge: H is for Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Hummus, and House of Caiphas

H is for Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Let me give you TMI right off the bat. Two years ago when we were at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, I had to go to the bathroom. There is always a long line at this holy place and so I went on to the restroom . . .and promptly got locked in. This was a unisex bathroom and it was literally a hole in the floor. I jiggled the knob and did everything I could do to unlock the door and I could feel the panic rising. I finally started banging on the door and yelling “help.” All of the sudden, there was an angel at the door! (not really) She was an angel to me because she let me out and she spoke no English but I guess a panicked plea for help is universal.  Now that I’ve told you this, I’ll tell you that I never even went to the bathroom.

On this trip, I was going to see this very holy place and so our group arrived early in the morning and we still had a 45 minute or so wait. Inside this church, there is an ancient Jewish tomb and the tomb has been enclosed in a chapel (inside the church) with an unbelievable fa├žade. There are marble pillars and columns and there are candles everywhere.

very dark picture of me waiting
in line

You can purchase candles and light
them for your loved ones.
This was our blue prayer dot
we were using in our prayer campaign at home

courtyard outside the church

The church of the Holy Sepulchre is built on the traditional site of Christ’s tomb and holds the last stations of the cross and so we actually walked the stations of the cross backwards that day in order to get in and see and touch. (more on stations of the cross on another day). This is from the Washington Post just last week, “The last five stations on Jesus’ final journey surround me — including the crucifixion hill at Calvary, the anointing stone and his empty tomb, all encased in the giant domed church originally conceived by Saint Helena in the 4th century.”

This place feels Holy. A group of us had actually walked through the Old City the night before and had walked into the church and looked around but decided to wait and go through the sites in order with the rest of our group.

This is one of the most interesting facts about the Holy Sepulchre.

Several different groups of Christians share this church and they don’t always share peacefully. Ownership of the church is shared by Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Aremenian Orthodox. Three smaller Orthodox communities, Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopian have rights to use certain areas. The Ethopian monks live in a village on the roof. We went there on our trip in 2016 but not on this trip. It gets even more interesting. There is a decree called the Status Quo that spells out who gets what AND the decree gives two Muslim families the sole right to hold the key and open and close the church each day – a tradition that dates back to 1246.

H is for Hummus

I want to say this is my favorite alphabet word but that makes me sound so very shallow and it is not quite true. I do love hummus and there is no hummus like the hummus in Israel.

I texted this picture home after my first meal. My scoop of hummus was as large as a scoop of mashed potatoes.

For all I know, they buy giant containers of Sabra hummus, just like I eat at home (I did see a Sabra container in one of the restaurants on our trip two years ago!! I chose to believe they ran out and used that as filler!)

Do you like hummus?

H is for House of Caiaphas

The House of Caiaphas was the place where the High Priest of Israel resided, and it was here that Jesus was tried informally by the Sanhedrin. Peter also denied Jesus in one of the courts of this palace. (see G for Gallicantu)

I know I’ve written many of these posts almost as a tourist guide but this site is very moving to me personally.

There is a small room (cave?) underneath where they would have lowered Jesus by ropes. It would have been dark inside this hole in the ground and Jesus would have been able to hear them talking about him. I cannot imagine what a dark time that would have been both literally and figuratively.

This is one of those “sites” where all I could whisper in my head and heart was, “O Jesus I am so very sorry for what we’ve done and continue to do.”

There is a podium down in this hellhole with a Bible open to a passage of scripture and I believe it is Psalm 38. This psalm is traditionally read while standing in this space. The words are at the end of the post if you would like to read them.

Outside the house, there are steps (a stepped street of stones) that would have been there in Jesus’ time where his feet trod as he walked down them from Mount Zion to the Kidron Valley. Jesus and his disciples all walked on these steps. Isn’t that amazing? Of course, as with any of the sites, who knows if this is the exact location or not but this is one of those place where you can feel it all the way down deep in your bones.

Have you ever been to a site that is regarded as Holy and felt it deep in your bones?

In the pit looking up toward the opening

stone steps/road that Jesus
and the disciples
would have walked

Psalm 38

A psalm of David. A petition.

1 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Your arrows have pierced me,
    and your hand has come down on me.
3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
    there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
4 My guilt has overwhelmed me
    like a burden too heavy to bear.

5 My wounds fester and are loathsome
    because of my sinful folly.
6 I am bowed down and brought very low;
    all day long I go about mourning.
7 My back is filled with searing pain;
    there is no health in my body.
8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;
    I groan in anguish of heart.

9 All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
    my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
    even the light has gone from my eyes.
11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
    my neighbors stay far away.
12 Those who want to kill me set their traps,
    those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
    all day long they scheme and lie.

13 I am like the deaf, who cannot hear,
    like the mute, who cannot speak;
14 I have become like one who does not hear,
    whose mouth can offer no reply.
15 Lord, I wait for you;
    you will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat
    or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.”

17 For I am about to fall,
    and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
    I am troubled by my sin.
19 Many have become my enemies without cause;
    those who hate me without reason are numerous.
20 Those who repay my good with evil
    lodge accusations against me,
    though I seek only to do what is good.

21 Lord, do not forsake me;
    do not be far from me, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
    my Lord and my Savior.


  1. Great post, Lisa. I love how you incorporate your trip with the A to Z challenge. What a great story about you getting locked in the bathroom. That sounds like something that would happen to me. It looks like a fabulous trip. I love hummus too!!

  2. Thanks so much for visiting! Hope you are finally seeing some spring in your area of the country!