Separation Is Not Of God…

Hello friends . . . grace and peace,

because every blog about The Holy Lands should have some geese in it

because every blog about The Holy Lands should have some geese in it

We were made quite aware of separation on our Sunday in Israel.

the illegal Separation Wall in the West Bank

the illegal Separation Wall in the West Bank

So much separation: The walls that separate the Jewish settlements in the West Band from the rest of the Israeli occupied Palestinian lands, the separation of the Samaritans from the Jews. Fr. Kamal reminded us of the recent statement by Pope Francis that the area needs to build bridges, not walls.

the city of Nablus

the city of Nablus

The Church of the Samaritan Woman

The Church of the Samaritan Woman

inside the Samaritan Woman church . . . all paintings and icons were done by one person, The Holy Father Justin

inside the Samaritan Woman church . . . all paintings, icons, and mosaics were done by one person, The Holy Father Justin

stunning

stunning

We left our hotel at 7:30 a.m. and headed north toward the city of Nablus, part of the West Bank and a 90-minute drive from Jerusalem. It’s the home of 90,000 Palestinian refugees. Our first stop was at the Samaritan Woman Church, built in 1914, that was the site of Jacob’s Well.  The well is where Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman and told her she had five husbands and the man she was currently with was not her husband. (John 4:1-42) The significance of the conversation was that Samaritans were looked down upon by Jews but Jesus was there for all nations.  Once again, Jesus is calling all people, not just chosen ones.  He is proclaiming a Kingdom, not a promised piece of land.  For Christians, to follow Jesus is to embrace these things.

down towards Jacob's well

down towards Jacob’s well

Fr. Kamal teaching at Jacob's well

Fr. Kamal teaching at Jacob’s well

Deacon Michele Whitford reads from John's Gospel about the Samaritan Woman at the well . . . at the well in the Samaritan Woman's church

Deacon Michele Whitford reads from John’s Gospel about the Samaritan Woman at the well . . . at the well in the Samaritan Woman’s church

Aran drinking the sweet clear water from Jacob's well

Aran drinking the sweet clear water from Jacob’s well

The well is beneath the church and we were able to crowd around it. Fr Kammal dropped cupfulls of water down the 40 meters, then asked women in our group to turn the crank and lower a pail to the water level. When it was brought to the surface, the pail was full of clear water from the spring. Several of us took a drink. Aran took video of Fr. Kamal pouring the water but it was posted to his snapchat which we can’t make work on this blog.  However, here’s footage of Fr. Ralph doing the same thing 3 years ago on their 2012 pilgrimage.

part of the steps destroyed by the bomb throw by Israeli settlers

part of the steps destroyed by the bomb throw by Israeli settlers

a school for Palestinian refugee children

a school for Palestinian refugee children

Walking down the steps from the church’s main floor, we were shown a shattered concrete step where a bomb, placed there by a Jewish extremist, exploded and injured a nun. Across the street was a refuges school sponsored by the United Nations in which boys and girls are taught separately.

a Samaritan priest shows us a copy of their Torah. They have an older one . . . it's 3,617 years old.

a Samaritan priest shows us a copy of their Torah. They have an older one . . . it’s 3,617 years old.

a fascinating man and a fascinating faith

a fascinating man and a fascinating faith

From there, we drove up a winding road to the top of Mount Gerizim to the temple of the Samaritans. Approximately 350 Samaritans, half of the number living in Israel, reside in the Mount Gerizim community. A Samaritan priest met us and took us into the temple, where we sat in front on the Torah. With our guide, Brishara, helping to translate, he explained the Samaritan tradition.

an amazing lunch . . . we ate chicken that had been cooked for 2 hours in a hole in the ground

an amazing lunch . . . we ate chicken that had been cooked for 2 hours in a hole in the ground

shopping and walking in The Old City

shopping and walking in The Old City

beautiful fabrics in the Muslim quarter of The Old City

beautiful fabrics in the Muslim quarter of The Old City

Lunch was in Nablus, (see Aran’s video here) then we bused back to Jerusalem, arriving in time for some to do some shopping.  Several members of our group ventured into The Old City, bought some falafel, some spices, some fabrics, and several other fun things for friends and family.

St. George's Cathedral in Jerusalem

St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem

Evening Prayer

Evening Prayer

Before dinner, several folks attended Evening Prayer at St. George’s Anglican/Episcopal Cathedral in Jerusalem.  The music, the prayers, the liturgy, it all had a wonderful familiarity.  And yet, praying the Litany for Peace in an area of the world that desperately needs it, somehow has a much different feel.  On a day of being made aware of separations, we ended it with this simple prayer, posted at the back of the Cathedral . . .

IMG_2011

The Dead Sea awaits us Monday.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…” – Psalm 122:6

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