Saturday, July 27, 2013

NT Day 12: Exam and Departure

Certificate Ceremony
Today marked the end our second class and my last day in Jerusalem. I spent the morning studying for our exam. After the exam, departure meeting, and lunch; a group of us went to town to either spend or exchange the reminder of our shekels. Afterward, we headed to the Wailing Wall for one last good-bye to the old city. I thought it was an appropriate ending to such an amazing journey – closing in prayer for the land, her people, and ministries and friends back home. While we were praying on the men's side of the western wall, I was surprised how few Jews were there on Shabbat, however to my surprise, there is a side room that has a large library and is air-conditioned for those wishing to pray. I had seen the tunnel there, but didn't realize it was open for prayer. Here I found the Jewish men praying – from all backgrounds. There were some dressed completely in white, some traditional, many orthodox, a few Russian Jews, as well as your average less conservative Jews. On the way back to campus we broke up – Scott and I went back to peak into David's Tomb, and the others went to have one last peak in the crypt under the Dormition Abbey. After doing most of my packing, the campus enjoyed a Passover / Shabbat meal together in the basement of the academic hall. We did not carry out all the modern Passover traditions, but rather how it may have been in Jesus' day. Cannot say I found it comfortable lying by the table to eat, but it was worth the experience. Dr. Wright discussed the scenario of the last supper. The meal would have been in the triclinium style with the short tables making a "U" shape around the room. Each attendee would be reclining on his left arm and eating with his right – essentially looking into the back of the head of the next. The hose would have sat in the second seat next to the door in order to facilitate the meal. The individual resting on the chest of Jesus, closest to his heart, had a view of the door. It was his job to protect the host if any unwanted enemies should come in – this would have been a very close and trusted friend of the host – even willing to give his life. The Gospels tell us this was the beloved disciple John. The individual to the other side of the host would have been the "guest of honor." The most favored place in the banquet. Who sat in this seat? It was Judas – as they ate, Jesus was resting on Judas' heart, giving Judas the place of honor. The person at the opposite end of the "U" shaped tables would have been in the lowest seat. If servants were permitted to dine with the guests, they would have sat in this seat. Dr. Wright made an argument for this being Peter – perhaps he took Jesus' saying, "the last shall be first" quite literally. As Jesus would have been the host and as there were no "servants" to do the customary feet washing, He did it Himself. Peter's reaction gives us a clue that he may have been in this seat. If this was Peter's seat, Peter should have been the one washing everyone else's feet. We ended the evening with a wonderful dinner and time of fellowship to follow. After five weeks together, it can sometimes be a bit hard to say goodbye. After a group picture and a few games, we went our separate ways – some leaving sooner than others. As my Sheruit for the airport was leaving just after midnight, I was the first to head out. I tried to get in a nap, but just could not sleep. – So looking forward to seeing my lovely lady in Rome in less than twenty hours.

Wow! I have never gone through such a thorough checks before getting on an airplane. Three times I was questioned as to where I had been, what I had done, etc. All checked in luggage had to be scanned and anything remotely of interest was cause to have one's bags searched through. I was one of the lucky majority to have my bags thoroughly checked and gone through. Apparently, it was my books and pottery pieces. It didn't help I had a large black object sticking out of my carry on – I had picked up a shofar in the old city, but found it would not fit in my checked piece, so I had to carry it with me for the day. Every checkpoint, the question was "what is that in your bag?" "A shofar," I would respond. The second gentleman to interrogate me asked, "And what is the connection between you and the shofar?" … what kind of question is that!? "umm … I love Israel!" … He grinned and changed the line of questioning to my work, why in the world I have a layover in Ukraine and not taking a direct flight, and why I wanted to visit Rome and not return home. Although I long process through security, I arrived at the gate with time to spare. … So I've been in Israel for five weeks now. When greeting someone, you say "Shalom." This worked great in Israel, but when I arrived in Kiev, Ukraine and greet the lady getting ready to stamp my passport with "Shalom" she does not have the same reaction as those who speak Hebrew in Israel. She just gives me an awkward look and decides not to say one word. I guess that is one way to get through security. Since then I have caught myself several times getting ready to use a Hebrew phrase – does not help I have not had much sleep in the last thirty six hours.

I'm now sitting at the Roman airport waiting for my wonderful wife! I had intended to take the train to our hotel and take a nap before coming back to pick her up six hours later. However, after waiting almost two hours for with a canceled train, delayed train, and misdirection from the train staff; I decided it would be safer if I just wait at the airport until Ruth arrives. I would hate to get stuck coming back and leave Ruth stranded at the airport with no directions. Like my experience at Pompey, the signs were wrong and times off. I was not the only one having problems - there were a large number of English speakers that were just as confused as I was. I asked around and found an airline pilot who told me, "You have to listen to the announcements to figure out what's going on." The only other problem is that the majority of the announcements are in Italian and the few that are in English do not sound much like English. So far all four of my Italian train experiences have been … well, let us just say less than desirable. …

Yeah! I graduate now with two more hours toward my Master's Degree :)

The New Gate of the old city

Entering the Armenian Quarter 

Children on the Streets

Hurva Synagogue 

Last visit to the Wailing Wall

Praying at the Western Wall

Doesn't look like many are here ...

but come to find out, they're all inside with the air conditioning!

Israeli Army

Departing the Old City for the last time through Zion Gate

Quick stop at David's Tomb before heading back to campus

The "last supper"

Fruits and Nuts ... 

And a form of beef stew with bread

With Shihan at our last supper 

Group Picture of our second group

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