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Matthew and Jutta in front of Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Matthew kneels at the site of Calvary 

Christine in front of the Western Wall
Janet and Lee standing on the Teaching Steps

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
–Romans 6:3-4

Today we arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at 8:00am.  God worked a miracle there this morning.  That is, 37 of us were nearly alone as we climbed the steps up to the chapel perched on top of Calvary/Golgotha.  It was relatively quiet and unhurried  as below the altar we knelt to touch the rock that held the cross of Jesus.  Then we descended the steps and, after a short wait, all were able to enter the tomb of Christ.

It has two chambers.  Bending low we got into the chamber of the angels.  Tradition says this is where the angel told the women on Easter morning that Jesus had risen from death (Mark 16:5-6). Then five of us at a time squeezed into the compact area believed to be where the body of Christ laid from Friday evening until Sunday morning.

To kneel and bow where everything changed for you and me and all humanity for eternity is a moving, humbling experience.  Yesterday in Bethlehem we witnessed where heaven came down to earth.  Today we witnessed the portal into heaven opened for us by our crucified, risen Lord
Jesus.

It was 8:57am. We walked less than a block to the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.   Before the bells stopped ringing the 37 of us were seated for the 9:00am All Saints’ Sunday service of worship.  In the prayers of the church we had an opportunity to speak the names of saints who have gone before us into the Church Triumphant.

So, this morning in Jerusalem, just down the street from where Jesus died and rose, the names of Jeffrey, Margaret, Randolph, Sue and Karen’s niece, and many others were raised up.  After that a meal was shared that united us with them and all the saints–past, present, and future.  For us, it was a foretaste of the feast to come.

Do you see the connections?  First, we walked and stood and knelt and touched where our Lord worked out our very salvation.  Then, in worship, we remembered it, took hold of it, celebrated it, and longed for the joyous consummation of all the hopes our Lord has given us: Just like we do every Sunday in worship.  These hopes will not be disappointed (Romans 5:1-5).

Thank you for your prayers.  They are carrying us.

Shalom!

Pass the Peace!
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