The hope we need to sustain us can never be destroyed

The Aedicule and rotunda in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
The Aedicule and rotunda in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
By on April 1, 2021
Doug Morris

I have written before of pilgrimages to the land of the Holy One, and how I look forward to leading them again in the future. My pilgrimages are designed for first-time pilgrims, and I would describe them as contemplative—allowing pilgrims the opportunity to experience and savour the “Fifth Gospel” as it proclaimed by the sun, wind, water and stones of the places where the life, death and resurrection of Jesus happened. 

Each day of a pilgrimage, often as we roll along in a comfortable bus, there are morning prayers, with readings and hymns that relate to the places we will see that day, and we pray these words together: God of our pilgrimage, you have given us a desire to take the questing way and set out on our journey. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, that whatever we encounter as we travel, we may seek to glorify you by the way we live. Amen.

The city of Jerusalem is integral to a pilgrimage to the land of the Holy One, as it is the historic and geographic centre of Easter. Jesus of Nazareth, who had been killed on a cross on a hill called Golgotha, and laid in a nearby tomb, was somehow raised into an entirely new relationship with his disciples after his death. The rabbi from Galilee became the Risen Christ in Jerusalem, and the Good News of God’s indestructible hope and love for all people spread from Jerusalem to every corner of the earth. 

The emotional climax of any pilgrimage is a visit to Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the place where generations of pilgrims remember the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. It takes a moment to realize that this large, complex building sits on what was once an abandoned stone quarry, with a rocky rise called Golgotha, and many tombs. Over the years, almost everything was carted away, and chapels were built around the top of Golgotha and the tomb where Jesus was buried: the places where Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead.

A massive rotunda is located in the middle of this sprawling church, and beneath it is a chapel called the Aedicule, which contains the remanent of the tomb where the resurrection of Jesus is believed to have happened. It is all larger than life, swarming with Christians from all over the world, and it communicates a kind of robust sacredness: whatever happened there speaks to some power, some creative force that is beyond anything we can comprehend, yet just beneath the surface of what we can see and know. A kind of ancient and eternal strength.

The Resurrection of Jesus tells us that the hope we need to sustain us in this life can never be destroyed. And the Resurrection is the most profound statement of God’s abundant, gracious love: there is always more than we can see, there are always more possibilities for life, there is always hope—for everyone. 

As we begin our journey out of the pandemic, and as you set out each day of your pilgrim journey through this life, may you always be conscious of that robust and indestructible hope. 


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