This month I was able to take a class at St George’s College in Jerusalem, which is an enclosed campus housing the Anglican Cathedral with guest housing and diocesan offices. The class, The Palestine of Jesus, essentially followed the Gospels throughout Israel. Each day we saw something new at various sites while reading the corresponding part of the Gospel.

I had a few takeaways from my time in Jerusalem. First, I could not believe how close many sites are to each other. The City of David is less than an hour, leisurely walking, away from the top of the Mount of Olives. The Old City of Jerusalem is in between. I have looked at numerous photos and maps, but actually being there brings the topography alive. The area is no longer static, but an actual place I can traverse. The Galilee is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The professor said the Galilee is the most popular spot for all of their classes. Once you are there it is easy to see why as you look out to a calm lake with undisturbed shoreline.

Jerusalem is home to the holiest site for the Jewish and Christian faiths, and the third holiest site for Islam. While I constantly saw Israeli Defense Force members patrolling and standing guard at various points in the city, I only felt real tension once. We had just toured the Western Wall, the last remnant of the Second Temple, and made our way to the Temple Mount, where the Second Temple actually stood before the Roman destruction in 70 CE. The Dome of the Rock, the third holiest site in Islam, now stands on top of the Temple Mount. This area is off limits to the Jewish people, but a few Jewish men walked around the outside of the Temple Mount, while a handful of Muslim men and women chanted at them. I came to learn this is a regular occurrence, and it was a bit surprising to see and hear.

As soon as we were done with the Temple Mount and began to walk the narrow streets of the Old City, going seamlessly through various sections of the city, all the people, regardless of affiliation, mingled and mixed peacefully. Jerusalem is valuable for so many.

The Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock, and the Western Wall are vitally important. Except for the Jewish men walking around the Temple Mount, one would think Jerusalem is just another ancient city, albeit with incredible history and a ton of holy ground.

I can honestly say I have a totally new perspective when I read the Bible because of my pilgrimage. I highly encourage you, if you are able, travel to the Holy Land with St George’s College.