Holy Land Pilgrimage 2018: The Upper Room and Jacob's Well
March 23, 2018
For the first time, the New England pilgrimage to the Holy Land included a visit to Jacob’s Well – at St. Photini the Samaritan in Nablus (formerly Shechem, near Samaria).
“Scholars say the sister in this story (John 4:4-30) had a history,” Bishop Devadhar said. “She didn’t want to come
to the well in the morning with her friends, because she knew they were talking about her. She came at the noon hour. No sane person comes to get water at noon in the desert heat.”
“Then comes this rabbi, who is not married, and talks to this questionable sister. Jesus was taking a risk talking with someone others would have told him to avoid,” the bishop said.
“He took a risk for the sake of the gospel.”
The result, the bishop said, was that the woman became an evangelist.
Bishop Devadhar asked pilgrims to reflect on: Who are your Samarians? Where are the places you don’t want to go? Who are the people you don’t want to encounter?
As pilgrims were about to enter the Upper Room, Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar told the clergy: “Your celebration of Maundy Thursday and Pentecost will be different this year,” as a result of being in this place.
When you go there you will find an empty space, the bishop told them, because Jesus ate his Passover meal seated on the floor. Matthew 26: 17-30
“It was a fun time for them,” the bishop said, but it was also “a time of honesty. Let us keep that in mind, too.”
For even as they broke bread together, Jesus knew he would be betrayed. In Eastern culture and the culture of the Holy Land, eating together is a sign of trust, and to betray someone with whom you have had a meal is particularly egregious.
As Bishop Devadhar said, “When you share a meal, it’s a holy meal.”
Pentecost, 50 days after Easter (May 20, 2018), also took place in the Upper Room.
The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples – it was a church with many languages, but they were one in spirit, in fellowship, and breaking the bread together,” Bishop Devadhar said.
The bishop asked the pilgrims in their prayers in the Upper Room to remember the Council of Bishops and the Commission on a Way Forward.
“So that the Holy Spirit can once again enter the Council of Bishops’ room and the General Conference and so that the new Pentecost will come,” he said, and there is reason to be hopeful because “the Holy Spirit can do anything, anything.”