A June Day in Jerusalem

jerusalemStill waking up, but with hot coffee in hand, we step outside on the balcony to join the pots of red geraniums that are already welcoming the day. The Jerusalem sky never fails to stun us. It is too blue to be real, but there it is, always this blue through at least September, reaching down to touch the rooftops and mountains of this beautiful city.

Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks

Today is Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, one of the three feasts on which God required Jewish men to appear before Him in Jerusalem. It was during this very festival, some 2,000 years ago, that God poured out the Holy Spirit, celebrated by the Christian world today as Pentecost. Shavuot means “Weeks” in Hebrew—is seven weeks or 50 days after the first day of Passover—and was translated to “Pentecost” in Greek.
On this notable day in Jerusalem we are able to experience the Jewish context of the Pentecost story found in Acts 2. So let’s join the streams of men, women, and children flowing in one direction, moving steadily toward the Old City.

As we ascend to Jaffa Gate, our eyes gaze upon fuchsia bougainvillea, climbing on anything vertical. These garlands remind us that Jewish homes and synagogues are decorated with flowers and boughs on this day, signifying the first fruits that were brought to the Temple. We are on our way to the Western Wall, a retaining wall to the Temple Mount upon which stood two temples, Solomon’s, and the second Temple, the place where the “Word Who Became Flesh” taught about the Kingdom of God.

Inside the Old City, we follow the throng past David’s Citadel then Christ Church, the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East. We wind through busy Jewish markets and squares as the crowd gets progressively thicker and the atmosphere is charged with anticipation.

Night of Learning

The people are full of life even after being up all night studying Torah. Last night was the “night of learning,” commemorating the day God gave the Torah to the Hebrew people at Sinai, with their response, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded” (Exodus 24:3 NLT). The rabbis liken this event to God marrying the Jewish people, giving them the covenant of his word and receiving their vow of faithfulness in return. It was a turning point for the Hebrew people, and indeed, for the world.

The Western Wall

Arriving at the landing at the top of the stairs, we take pause. There it is, a segment of wall of the ancient Temple! Men in their holiday finery press in to the wall on the left, while women and their little ones pray behind the lattice on the right. The Western Wall functions as an Orthodox synagogue—that’s why there are separate sections for men and women.

We don’t take it for granted that Jews can pray at the Western Wall as they were barred from their most holy site for 19 years. Therefore, it was a historic Shavuot in June 1967, six days after the Six Day War and the liberation of Jerusalem, when 200,000 Jewish worshippers prayed at the Western Wall for the first time since 1948.

Pentecost

Today, as we mix with the crowd, made up of worshippers from every nation, we are reminded of the other turning point that happened in Jerusalem on this day: over 2000 years ago, “On the day of Pentecost [Shavuot] all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven…And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit …” (Acts 2:1-2; 4 NLT). This is the birthday of the Church. The very day God gave the law to Israel as a marriage contract, he gave the Holy Spirit to the Church and indwelled her.

What a day to be walking in Jerusalem! Think of it: on this day 47 years ago, the Western Wall was opened to the Jewish people for prayer. It is the day that God gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Sinai, and the day the Holy Spirit first indwelled the hearts of the Jews who followed Jesus, giving birth to the Church. We are filled with awe, connected to our older brother the Jewish people, and to their God and ours. We ponder these things as we finish our own prayers, walk back to our balcony, full circle, blessed to be alive on this singular day in June, in Jerusalem.

Dr. Carrie Burns is the Educational Programs Developer for the US Branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem www.icejusa.org

Carrie BurnsGood News
Still waking up, but with hot coffee in hand, we step outside on the balcony to join the pots of red geraniums that are already welcoming the day. The Jerusalem sky never fails to stun us. It is too blue to be real, but there it is, always this blue through at least September, reaching down to touch the rooftops and mountains of this beautiful city.
Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks Today is Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, one of the three feasts on which God required Jewish men to appear before Him in Jerusalem. It was during this very festival, some 2,000 years ago, that God poured out the Holy Spirit, celebrated by the Christian world today as Pentecost. Shavuot means “Weeks” in Hebrew—is seven weeks or 50 days after the first day of Passover—and was translated to “Pentecost” in Greek. On this notable day in Jerusalem we are able to experience the Jewish context of the Pentecost story found in Acts 2. So let’s join the streams of men, women, and children flowing in one direction, moving steadily toward the Old City. As we ascend to Jaffa Gate, our eyes gaze upon fuchsia bougainvillea, climbing on anything vertical. These garlands remind us that Jewish homes and synagogues are decorated with flowers and boughs on this day, signifying the first fruits that were brought to the Temple. We are on our way to the Western Wall, a retaining wall to the Temple Mount upon which stood two temples, Solomon’s, and the second Temple, the place where the “Word Who Became Flesh” taught about the Kingdom of God.Inside the Old City, we follow the throng past David’s Citadel then Christ Church, the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East. We wind through busy Jewish markets and squares as the crowd gets progressively thicker and the atmosphere is charged with anticipation.
Night of LearningThe people are full of life even after being up all night studying Torah. Last night was the “night of learning,” commemorating the day God gave the Torah to the Hebrew people at Sinai, with their response, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded” (Exodus 24:3 NLT). The rabbis liken this event to God marrying the Jewish people, giving them the covenant of his word and receiving their vow of faithfulness in return. It was a turning point for the Hebrew people, and indeed, for the world.
The Western Wall Arriving at the landing at the top of the stairs, we take pause. There it is, a segment of wall of the ancient Temple! Men in their holiday finery press in to the wall on the left, while women and their little ones pray behind the lattice on the right. The Western Wall functions as an Orthodox synagogue—that’s why there are separate sections for men and women. We don’t take it for granted that Jews can pray at the Western Wall as they were barred from their most holy site for 19 years. Therefore, it was a historic Shavuot in June 1967, six days after the Six Day War and the liberation of Jerusalem, when 200,000 Jewish worshippers prayed at the Western Wall for the first time since 1948.
PentecostToday, as we mix with the crowd, made up of worshippers from every nation, we are reminded of the other turning point that happened in Jerusalem on this day: over 2000 years ago, “On the day of Pentecost [Shavuot] all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven…And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit …” (Acts 2:1-2; 4 NLT). This is the birthday of the Church. The very day God gave the law to Israel as a marriage contract, he gave the Holy Spirit to the Church and indwelled her. What a day to be walking in Jerusalem! Think of it: on this day 47 years ago, the Western Wall was opened to the Jewish people for prayer. It is the day that God gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Sinai, and the day the Holy Spirit first indwelled the hearts of the Jews who followed Jesus, giving birth to the Church. We are filled with awe, connected to our older brother the Jewish people, and to their God and ours. We ponder these things as we finish our own prayers, walk back to our balcony, full circle, blessed to be alive on this singular day in June, in Jerusalem.
Dr. Carrie Burns is the Educational Programs Developer for the US Branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem www.icejusa.org

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