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Viewpoint from Rev Rosie Bunn 14/04/2017 

rosie bunnRev Rosie Bunn
Rector, St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Burgh Castle
All Saints Church, Belton

also published in the Yarmouth Mercury

Have you ever imagined what it was like in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified?

Nearly two years ago I visited the holy sites of Jerusalem.  On one day, we walked over the brow of the hill from Bethany and down the Mount of Olives towards the Kidron Valley.  In parts, the path was really steep but it gave an amazing view of the walls and city of Jerusalem; the Temple site (now the Al Aqsa Mosque), and the location of the events of the first Holy Week and Easter
dove leftThe narrow road/path down to the olive groves of Gethsemane is now surrounded by Jewish cemeteries and a few Christian churches, but in Jesus’ time during a festival period (and it was the time of the festival of the Passover) there would have been many people camped out on the hill and in the valley
Trying to imagine how things would have been was quite difficult, but there was a real sense of procession as we, with a group of fellow travellers, walked together talking, and sometimes singing, remembering the journey Jesus took, on a donkey, with his disciples.
At the bottom of the hill, lay the Church of All Nations believed to be an authentic site for the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed on the night he was arrested.  Gethsemane probably comes from the Aramaic Gatsemani, meaning oil press; the garden being a plot of land enclosed by a wall – a market garden
Around the church there were a lot of tourists gathered and, in the church, a rock said to be the place where Jesus prayed before Judas led the chief priests and temple guard to arrest him.  To be honest I really struggled with the emotional way in which some folk reached to touch a rock; I preferred the quiet walled space across the road where olive trees grew peacefully!
Dove rightAnother day we visited the site of the hill outside the City wall, Golgotha; for me it was too full of ornate silver.  It was obviously a place where Jesus Christ was remembered, honoured and worshipped, and similarly in the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulchre/Church of the Resurrection where Jesus’ tomb can be found, I, personally, found it too busy
 However, we were also taken to a garden where a replica tomb could be found, carved into the rock; unfussy, bare and, I suppose, it was how I expected it to be.  For me this was a highly spiritual moment.  Here I could imagine Peter and John running to the tomb with Mary Magdalene and finding the stone rolled away, the tomb empty apart from folded grave clothes, and Jesus risen!
How often do our preconceived ideas of how things should be get in the way of a deep spiritual encounter with the risen Jesus?  In reading afresh the account of Jesus’ last days, familiar as it is, it is possible to engage with the fear, betrayal, judgment, disloyalty, powerlessness, torture, burdens, mercy, tears, forgiveness, death and hope experienced by Jesus and those closest to him
We can think of Jesus’ birth as the time that God touched earth and gave us hope, but it is Jesus’ horrific death and subsequent resurrection that changed the world.  It’s something to celebrate this Easter!

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