Today’s post is sort of a continuation of yesterday’s post since I was traveling the whole time. After taking the Swiss Air flight across the Atlantic, our first stop was Zurich, Switzerland. Nice airport, but at 6AM, the international terminal didn’t provide much in the way of entertainment for pilgrims.
Once upon a time, I used to really enjoy unique wrist watches. I still like to look at them, but since I’ve switched to an Apple Watch, I don’t really think I’ll go back to an old-fashioned analog watch any time soon. Nonetheless, it was fun to look over the various Swiss watches in one of the gift shops.
After a bit of a layover, it was time to board our last flight to get us into Tel Aviv. The Swiss Air people decided that my carry-on rollerboard was too heavy for the overhead somewhat arbitrarily. I took a deep breath and decided not to challenge them on it and dutifully stowed my bag, and my mom’s bag, under the plane. All was well in Tel Aviv when they turned up with the rest of the bags on the carousel.
For a country that has so many foreign visitors, I have to give the Tel Aviv airport a C- for handling immigration and customs. Too many people, not enough efficiency in passing them through the passport checks. Compared to Singapore, for example, this airport seemed to be stuck in the 80’s. After getting through, we regrouped all the pilgrims and found our way to the tour bus.
I’m pretty impressed with our tour operator and bus driver so far. More on them in future posts, I’m sure.
A short ride later, we went up to the Norte Dame d’Alliance church. This church is built on the site where Abinadab kept the Ark of the Covenant – where it “rested” after it was returned from the Philistines. The church has some mosaic floors that date back to 500 AD from an original church. The current church is from the mid 20th century. We were treated to a nice view of Jerusalem off in the distance by night from the grounds of this amazing place.
In about 1050 BC, the Israelites tried to engage the Philistines without consulting the LORD first. They carried the Ark of the Covenant before them as though it was a thing to be used, instead of the presence of God’s name. The Philistines routed the Israelites and carried off the Ark (see 1 Samuel 4). There’s a great story that goes along – read a few chapters of 1 Samuel to get the overview. The Philistines eventually decide to send it back after being affected by plagues.
The Ark comes to rest in Abinadab’s home for some number of years – estimated to be 20-80 years.
Then, in the first year of King David’s reign (approximately 1000 BC), King David makes Jerusalem the capital of Israel. He wants to move the Ark to Jerusalem, but after a mishap, David’s profound respect for the Ark causes him to change his plans. He says “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” and so decides to take it to an interim place. Three months later, amid dancing and celebration, David moves the Ark to Jerusalem (See 2 Samuel 6).
Compare this to how Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant. She visits Elizabeth for three months. John the Baptist leaps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb. The old Ark contains the Law, the Rod of Aaron, and the Manna. The new Ark, Mary, carries the fulfillment of the Law, the new High Priest, and the Bread of Life all wrapped up into one: Jesus Himself. And of course we hear Elizabeth say the same words as David: “how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” (See Luke 1:39-45)
We celebrated mass at this amazing sight as we began our pilgrimage. Like the Ark, both old and new, we will be wandering around the Holy Land. Marcellino did a nice job of teaching us about this site, as expected.
After mass, we traveled up into Jerusalem to the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center. This is a hotel and conference facility built in the 1800s and owned by the Vatican. It is right outside the old part of Jerusalem. In fact, my back window overlooks the old city.
My hope is to get some decent sleep tonight. We’re 7 hours ahead of Lexington time, so I’m hopeful that jet lag doesn’t affect me too much this trip.
Off to bed.