As we continue toward Easter, this week’s lectionary text is less of a story about or in a particular location in Israel than those of weeks past. So, this week, I wanted to share images with you from multiple different places I visited in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Denmark. Most of these images connected with the theme of darkness and light as seen in churches throughout the Holy Land (and Copenhagen!).
John 3:14 – 21 (NRSV)
“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
A serpentine cross sculpture at the top of Mount Nebo symbolizes the serpent of bronze made by Moses (Numbers 21:4–9), as well as the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. According to tradition, Mount Nebo (not far from the city of Mabada in Jordan) is the location from which God showed Moses the Promised Land.
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
A painting of the trinity on the ceiling of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in the Russian Compound in Jerusalem. The church was completed in 1872 as a centerpiece to the compound.
‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Altar in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Jerusalem
Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Painting of judgment inside the Church of the Apostles near the Sea of Galilee in Israel.
And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.
At the fourth station along the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem, a sculpture depicting Jesus seeing Mary is lit by candles inside an Armenian chapel.
Inside Frederik’s Church (also known as the Marble Church) in Copenhagen, Denmark, the light shines through stained glass windows across the church’s dome, illuminating three crosses in the late afternoon sun.
As the sunset in Madaba, Jordan, the shadow of a cross appeared on the exterior of the Church of St. John the Baptist.
But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’”
The sun shines into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher onto the traditional location of the tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem.
Each Friday afternoon at 3:00 pm in the winter (and 4:00 pm the rest of the year), Franciscan monks lead pilgrims and tourists alike through the stations of the cross on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem’s Old City. The procession ends in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where everyone lights candles, prays, and sings.
This is the Word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.