Posted by: thebluemusicblog | April 14, 2013

JESUS’ CROSS IN A BUS STATION AND HIS BIRTH PLACE SURROUNDED BY SETTLEMENTS?

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This is from inside Jesus’ grave. If He did not die on a bus station up town, He died here. I have never been inside before, because there was always such a long line of people there. This second day of Easter there was almost none!

IMG_1155Ingunn on her way into the grave of Jesus. It was one of those moments, it was!

IMG_1140The stone where they put the body of Jesus after he was taken down from the cross.

IMG_1332Angel in  tears and with big napkin after the death of Jesus. From the wall in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher . Interesting, isn’t it?

IMG_1333More crying angels from the same wall.

IMG_1335This is inside the cliff of Golgotha, underneath where we think the cross was erected.

IMG_1254This is Dr Saeb Erikat, the Head of the PLO Negotiating Team, one of the highest positioned in the Palestinian society. He gave the opening speech at the EXCOM meeting in Jericho. I was honored to meet with him. Dr Saeb Erikat comes to every graduation ceremony at the Jericho YMCA Vocational Training Centre. A great man!

IMG_1262And this is Isa, a friend from my last visit to Palestine. A very influential member of the Negotiating Team and recently appointed Palestinian Ambassador to the Vatican State. Isa is also a Board Member of East Jerusalem YMCA.

IMG_1193The backdrop at the stage. The opening ceremony was like at the World Council and the Palestinian dancers were state of the art!

IMG_1274The President of the Board at East jerusalem YMCA, Wassef Daher, a good friend!

IMG_1212A fabulous show at the opening ceremony!

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Beautiful young people, many of them with a strong YMCA background!

Then we started our EXCOM meeting next morning. After the opening formalities I gave my annual report followed by a very constructive conversation lasting more than an hour. It was a great atmosphere of optimism and future perspectives. And we have achieved quite a lot the previous year. We underlined that this is really a team effort of volunteers and staff, and we celebrated the results. We then went into committee meetings for several hours, basically Finance, Governance and I&I.

After that we had a presentation of the World Council programme and general planning for the World Council in 2014. The Oversight Committee was happy and the EXCOM inspired.

Next day was set aside for a full day of traveling around Palestine and Jerusalem. Early morning we had a session on Governance Update, which went very well. Then the bus filled up and we set out for Jerusalem.

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First stop was East Jerusalem YMCA where Ilham, Andre and Michele welcomed us and showed us around the premises.

IMG_1315Group photo in front of the Damascus Gate and the Old City.

We then walked through the Old City and came to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where we again had a fantastic experience. We saw members of the group engaging themselves in the different stations of Jesus’ suffering.

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The cross on Via Dolorosa.

IMG_1339A black Jesus was for a long time something provocative in  African Churches.

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Underneath Golgotha, underneath Jesus’ cross, there is nothing else to do than to meditate and remember what happened here 2000 years ago.

IMG_1356After a delicious lunch at the Jerusalem International YMCA where CEO Forsan showed us around the beautiful premises and explained the history of this famous YMCA in West Jerusalem, we travelled on to Bethlehem and the Church of Nativity there.

IMG_1377The Church of Nativity was so full of activities that we had no time to line up for the birth place of Jesus. But we came very close!

IMG_1398Illegal Israeli Settlements seen from the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem. Bethlehem is about to be surrounded by these settlements. The settlements are protected by barbed wire and soldiers and walls.

IMG_1426The wall separating Israel from the occupied territories.

Later on we continued our travel to Beit Sahour and visited the YMCA Rehabilitation Centre, treating children coming out from Israeli prisons as well as treating their families  and trying to reintegrate the children in normal life in family and society. Nader Abu Amsha is the Director for this important programme and he also represents the YMCA at ACT (Action of Churches Together) in Geneva.

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The leader of the rehabilitation programme in YMCA Beit Sahour, Nader Abu Amsha, a good friend and a man I admire.

IMG_1431Evelyn and Johan and Lucy in the Holy Land.

In the late evening we witness the chartering of the new Y’s Men and Women Club in Bethlehem before we end the day in the Shepard’s Field with candles and devotion. The friends in Beit Sahour are serving us dinner and then we are on our way back to Jericho for a next day of meetings of the EXCOM. More photos and reports in my next blogpost.

IMG_1483Ken Colloton giving an excellent speech in Beit Sahour.

IMG_1491Devotion in Shepards’ Field in Beit Sahour, where the shepards saw the angels and from where they left to see the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem.


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