I am so glad to finally have a chance to get online and share a bit about our trip! Its quite late, so I may not be on long... Finally I have internet working- so I had to take the opportunity!
We arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, February 23 in the afternoon at 2:30 pm-- it was 7:30 back home. We drove from Tel Aviv to Tiberius. Our wonderful tour guide is Mike- he is absolutely amazing!!! We are the "Wow bus" we have lots of fun- he encourages us to say "wow!" and believe me -- we do!!! Wow- We are in Awe of what God has done! What God is doing! And what God continues to do here! How powerful to walk in these places where Jesus walked! Wow!
We arrived at our hotel, had dinner, unpacked and went to bed. By the time we got to the hotel- it was noon back home-- a full 24 hrs after we began our travel we arrived at our destination.
Tiberius is located on the Sea of Galilee-- it is absolutely beautiful here!
We left at 7:30am Thursday morning and took a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is a very big "lake" but you can see how it is like a sea- it is far across to the other side, quite hazy, and the wind and weather can change easily. Quick changes in weather are common- b/c it is 685 feet below seal level. This day was relatively calm and peaceful. The boat stopped and I read from the Gospel of Matthew 8:23-27 and preached on the Sea of Galilee! Wow!
Then we sang together, "Here I am Lord!" How powerful to sing this song- How powerful because here in the Galilee was where Jesus called his disciples and they answered the call-- and we too say, "Here I am" and answer the call to follow! This day was so powerful - especially b/c originally this was to be our itinerary for Friday- but we switched b/c the it is an easier day jet lagged and our last stop was the Jordan River (and the Baptismal site closes early on Friday) so Thursday was better. But Thursday was better b/c we started our journey that day- and here was where the disciples started their journey- at his baptism was where Jesus started his ministry.
As we stepped off the boat we went to see the Jesus Boat- which is a boat that was found in the Sea of Galilee when there was a drought. This boat is 2000 years old and is - or like the boat that Jesus and his disciples would have sailed on.
We then hopped on the bus to the Mount of Beatitudes. Wow! So beautiful! It is so fertile here- orange trees, bananna trees, mango, such green and lush- even in a drought they have- you'd never believe how beautiful the land is! Wild flowers scatter the hills- yellow flowers and red poppies. Matthew 5: 1-19
We then went to the Tagba -the Church of the Loaves and Fishes where Jesus fed the 5000!
Each place we went Mike shared so much with us and painted a picture- it was as if we were there and then just as he had us on the tip of our toes convinced we were there - he would lead us right into the place where the scripture was read. At every place I had someone read scripture. Here we read from John 6: 1-15
Off then to the Church of Peter's Primacy - "Do you love me?" Jesus asked Peter and he said, "Feed my Sheep." Here we could walk down and put our feet, our hands, into the Sea of Galilee- here we could pray and place our prayer into this holy rock. John 21: 15-19
Next we went to Capernaum - this was amazing! Capernaum is called the hometown of Jesus- (But wasn't Jesus from Nazareth? you ask?- yes- but they rejected him). Capernaum was where Jesus spent most of his time. This is where he stayed. This is where the disciples stayed with Peter's mother in law. There was so so much here! Here we read John 6: 30-33, 47-51, 59-- Jesus is the Bread of Heaven-- (we read this b/c on the doorway to the synagogue here God's provision was memorialzed by a carved manna pot-- remembering God's miracle of daily supply-- and excavations at Capernaum have unearthed such a manna pot. Jesus is the bread of heaven - He supplies a gift that lasts forever.
We then ate in a kibbotz (I'm totally spelling this wrong) and many of us ate St. Peter's fish.
And then we were off to the Jordan River to remember our baptism! Wow! This was amazing! Ralph and I waded into the water and together we all remembered our baptism and were thankful! We renewed our covenant with God, reaffirmed our faith, and remembered our baptism! Ralph and I splashed the group as we remembered our baptism and we all felt the spirit fall afresh on us! A few brave folks sang "Wade in the Water" together!
Today- Friday - was amazing!
We went to Megiddo, Caesaarea by the Sea, the Church of the Annuciation, and Cana.
There is so much to tell...
Highlights: From Megiddo we could see Samaria looking one way and Mt. Carmel looking the other.
Caessarea was unbelieveabe! The Mediterranean Sea is just astounding!
Ampitheatre- here we sang together "Rock of Ages"
so much more!
The Church of the Annuciation left me speechless as I was in awe of Mary and in awe of Jesus coming back here to Nazareth to preach and be rejected. I had no words and only tears. Perhaps it is the connection I feel with Mary as a mother-- and also a woman in ministry- one who was called and with such boldness, such courage.... We heard the scripture read from Luke 1 and sang the first and last verses of the Summons-- I asked the group, "Can you say along with Mary, "I am the Lord's servant and I am willing to do whatever he wants." God summons us - Let us follow-- and we sang together... My tears came long before as Mike spoke of Jesus returning to Nazareth after his baptism and preaching.... upon entering the church he asked me if I was okay- and I could only shake my head- so filled, so in awe- so unable to speak. There are not words for the power of this place. Here in this place I thanked God for the privilege of calling me to motherhood and ministry- for bringing Jesus into the world and for Mary who answered the call. I prayed for my friends who are expecting- for their journey as mothers and for their children.
We then went to Cana - the place of Jesus' first miracle. Those who were here with their spouses came and renewed their vows- those of us w/o our spouses renewed our vows as well (only our spouses were not with us :(
As Mike spoke to us about this holy place he said, "Why did they run out of wine?" Because Jesus was there and people came to see Jesus! More people had come because Jesus was there. For some reason that had never really dawned on me why they ran out...just that they did. People heard that Jesus was coming to this wedding- this Jesus they had heard of - and so they came to see what all of this was about. And here the people saw and believed!
As we left Cana- Mike ran into a bakery and bought us all baklava! Wow! So so good!
Pictures to come!!! Perhaps when I am not so tired... all I can say is that I am constantly in awe- always taking a breath of the spirit breathing in- which reveals ever so much more of my faith to me in this holy place. Wow-- God is awesome!