Today we have continued our journey with the most amazing places: first, the Western Wall tunnels, then a walk down the Palm Sunday Road from the Mount of Olives to the Church at Gethsemane, followed by a visit with our colleagues in faith at the Bethlehem Bible College, and then a visit to the Church of the Nativity and the Shepherd’s Cave. And all day long, at each and every place, there was music — in my head.
As we walked through the tunnels dug by Rabbis seeking access to the Western Wall when none was available, as we stared at the gigantic stones that are the foundation of that wall — all I could hear was my friend Josh’s setting of the Shema (in Hebrew, of course):
Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One
V’ahav’ta eit Adonai Elohekha b’khol l’vav’kha
uv’khol naf’sh’kha uv’khol m’odekha.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your might.
As I stood on that most ancient of burial grounds, the Mount of Olives, the place where hundreds of thousands of Jews have fought to be buried as they await the coming of the messiah, all I could hear was the gospel favorite We Shall Behold Him (by Dottie Rambo):
The sky shall unfold, preparing his entrance
The stars shall applaud him, with thunders of praise
The sweet light in His eyes shall, shall enhance those awaiting
And we shall behold Him, then face to face.
As I listened to my new friend Karen deliver today’s devotion from the Mount of Olives, as I looked out over the Dome of the Rock and the magnificent view while she reminded us that we were in the place that was Jesus’ place of prayer and preparation, I heard the lyrics of another great gospel song, Standing in the Need of Prayer:
Not my brother, not my sister,
But it’s me, oh Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer.
And as our journey to Bethlehem began, so did the Christmas music, but in particular this one:
How far is it to Bethlehem?
Not very far.
Shall we find a stable room
Lit by a star?
Can we see the little child?
Is he within?
If we lift the wooden latch,
May we go in?
And the musical journey ended as we listened to a choir sing O Little Town of Bethlehem in the Church of Santa Caterina (attached to the Church of the Nativity) and sang Silent Night in the Shepherd’s cave on the outskirts of Bethlehem town.
Or did it…because even as I sit here tonight, getting ready to walk the Via Dolorosa tomorrow, all I can think about is this great old spiritual, that pretty well sums up my day on this pilgrim road:
Over my head, I hear music in the air
There must be a God somewhere
Goodnight, all. The adventure continues tomorrow.