Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jerusalem Jr.

Today members of the Orem 31st ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embarked on a field trip to the thriving metropolis of Elberta near Goshen, Utah.  Two bus-loads of single adults descended upon the ersatz Holy Land to follow in the footsteps, if not of the Savior of mankind, then at least in the footsteps of a red-headed, blue-eyed, New York actor who, with the help of some make-up artists, played the role of Jesus in the new Bible videos for the Church.  In this respect, we were walking on holy Hollywood ground.

As we shuffled through the dusty grounds of the replica of the Holy City, the smell of the nearby cattle farms fresh in our nostrils, meandering like replicas of the people who might have wandered the narrow roads of Jerusalem during the first century, I could not help but  imagine the real Jerusalem, the real people of the time, and the reality of what took place there. Although the set was impressive in the size, scale, and scope of construction, it took a lot of imagination to reconstruct the events of Christ's life during the tour.  Still, I could imagine the Lord there, leading his disciples, teaching his Gospel, healing a paralytic, a blind man, a leper, and an afflicted woman.  I could imagine him forgiving a woman taken in adultery, rebuking the scribes and the pharisees, and gazing over at Peter after the crowing of the cock.

We marched along a path that led down to the engineered olive trees in an area representing the Garden of Gethsemane, where we paused to reflect.  Then up the hill we trod to visit the crosses on the Golgotha of Goshen, where we also paused to consider what this representation was meant to represent.  Gazing at the crosses and then at my fellow travelers, I imagined that each would have been numbered among those who were faithful disciples, even in the midst of great opposition and adversity.

Returning through the set, and overhearing conversations about business in the court of the temple, I imagined the Lord clearing out the money changers with a whip and with righteous indignation.  Passing by the upper chamber, I imagined friends participating in the Last Supper.  Through another gate, the throng of thirty-somethings sat down to eat lunch, and I could imagine a miraculous distribution of loaves and fishes.  

If anything, the excursion was an enjoyable experience and an encouragement to watch the Bible videos that the Church has recently produced.  We may not have walked where Jesus walked, but at least it was good practice should we have the opportunity to do so in the future.