Night at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Last night, our group left around midnight to visit the Holy Sepulcher for the Divine Liturgy. The walled city was empty, the maze of pathways, dark and narrow, are normally full of people of all faiths, criss-crossing each way, during the day.
We walked along the slick marble and imperfect steps, and entered the Holy Sepulcher, arguably the most important religious site on the globe. Dark, decrepit, crumbling …overwhelmingly humble is this site. In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian museums, a testament to modern humanity’s accomplishments, are the Ritz Carlton of museums. In Jerusalem, the site of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and tomb…one has an overwhelming feeling that humanity may forget soon…when one sees the humble, dilapidated condition of the Holy Sepulcher. As one of the OCN pilgrims noted, the site’s humility, if that is what one can call neglect, mirrored Christ’s humility and divine perfection. The contrast will bring you to your knees.
Acting as the holy guardians of the tomb, one sees Greek Orthodox priests and religious staff darting back and forth, in and out of Christ’s tomb, with incredible strength and fervent intent to protect the original teachings of Christ. Two millennia later, there are still spiritual warriors guarding and sharing God’s love so that we can be saved today.
On the way out, at 3:30 am, one sees nuns and common folk alike, young and old, some not able to walk, some strong, all kneeling to kiss the stone and pray, without ever looking up, at the slab that Christ’s body was placed upon after he was taken off the cross. If you wonder how they know whether the events of the crucifixion occurred, you have only to see the guardians of the tomb, and imagine two thousand years of unbroken dedication to protecting, sharing, fighting for, and preserving Christ’s messages, even when no one listened or listens.
I wish you could see it with your own eyes.