4. 'Go up to Jerusalem'

Sacred Spaces 4: ‘GO UP TO JERUSALEM’

Father James Martin, S.J. (Society of Jesuits), describing his visit to the Tomb of our Lord in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, tells us in his book 'Jesus.  A Pilgrimage', that coming out of the tomb he was overwhelmed by the sudden realisation that this wasn't only the Church of the Holy Sepulchre but, even more powerfully, it is the Church of the Resurrection.   It's from that spot on which he stood, and on which I've stood, that Jesus rose from the dead - and the world was changed for ever.   It's on that spot the history of the world made a 'U-turn'.


Some people look for a 'Road to Damascus' experience, but mankind took thousands of years to travel down to the bottom of that 'U', where Christ went so far down with us that, as the Creed reminds us, 'he descended into hell.'   From that spot, we have the beginning of the upward journey, travelling up the other arm of the 'U', towards redemption, answering Christ's call to walk, 'to pilgrim,' with him towards, and into, the Kingdom of Heaven, towards that world of which Isaiah spoke in prophecy, and which our Lord adopted as his mission statement in his home synagogue of Nazareth:


'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor,

 He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.'  

(Luke 4.18 & 19)


We no longer travel alone for, by the miracle which happened in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre/Resurrection, we're travelling up to God and his Kingdom, with Jesus, for he promises, 'I am with you always.'  Indeed, he goes before us as a trail blazer, as the angel said to Mary Magdalene in the tomb, 'He goes before you into Galilee.'  He always goes before us, not to create a kingdom of power, but, with this 'U-turn', a Kingdom of Service.


It happens today.  I know I'm in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre/Resurrection, the place where the direction of the world was reversed, every time I kneel at the altar - for there is that Bread of Life which is what he left of himself for us.  It lies on the Altar, on every Altar in every Church, just as it did when he left the sight of the disciples in Emmaus.  In that Bread he's there for us, just as he promised, in the place of Sacrifice and of Resurrection.  In the place of infinite love, for God is Love.  “Do this in remembrance of me.  I am with you always, even to the end of the world, as one who serves.” 


David Porter


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