The Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations – Sunday ends with hope

Garden of Gethesemane The garden offers a small but lovely hint of the olive groves that covered the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives in the time of Jesus.  Some of the trees there today have been scientifically dated as being approximately 2,000 years old.  Some are 15 feet or more in circumference: enormous and gnarled, yet still bearing fruit.  Around them on the ground are beautiful wildflowers.   The entire grove is contained within an iron fence, but one can still sense the serenity of the grove and easily imagine Jesus and his disciples retreating to it on many occasions, including the night of his arrest.

 A church was built adjacent to this grove as early as the 4th century CE.  The present Church of All Nations was built in 1924.  Its floor is paved in a mosaic pattern that copies the floor of a much earlier church.  In places thick glass reveals the original mosaic paving below.  The focal point of the church is an exposed craggy rock, said to be the place where Jesus prayed in his agony and committed himself to God’s will while his disciples slept under the surrounding olive trees.  Many visitors kneel around the rocky outcrop in order to touch or kiss the stone.  On the wall above it is an immense mosaic depicting Jesus praying on a similar outcrop.  While we were there, groups of pilgrims from Japan, Europe, and Latin America gathered around the garden and in the church, truly illustrating the reach of the Christ’s teaching and the promise of his resurrection.  Given the examples of human fear and folly we had witnessed and learned about earlier, this peaceful setting with its diverse, respectful visitors, provided a fitting and hopeful end to the day.

Peter

 

 

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