Dome on the Rock

Saturday 22nd March

The posts from 20-28 March 2014 were originally formatted for Tumblr. Click here to see the original blog.

Obscuring or revealing the Gospel?

The Church of the Resurrection, as it is called by eastern churches, or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as it is more functionally called by western churches, stands on holy ground.  It embraces two sites only 30m apart that were recognised by fourth century Emperor Constantine as the most likely places of crucifixion and burial (and of course, resurrection) of Jesus.  Both Jesus’ death and burial were on open ground outside of the city wall but now this site is enclosed and filled with religious paraphernalia. A painted ‘cardboard’ Jesus hangs from a cross adorned with a silver crown surrounded by candles.  And it seems to obscure a story of tears and loss and pain.

30m away from the gallery in which the cross stands on a rocky mound are the remains of a tomb encapsulated in an aedicule and surrounded by scaffolding and 7m high candle sticks with fluorescent light bulbs on top. It is a far cry from any form of garden but still there is a sense that this is where the events of Christ’s passion happened so crowds throng to share something of the space.

Votive lights bear testimony to real prayer being made in this place of chaos and confusion where many Christian traditions hang their symbols.

With Muslim friends we have been unpacking the Holy Land as the fifth of the Christian Gospels – but it really is quite difficult to read.

Published by

Tim Stratford

Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford Dean of Chester

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