Monday, August 20, 2012

Galilee, Part 1

Jane and Adam at the Jordan
While staying in Nazareth, we spent a couple of days driving to different sites of Jesus' ministry in Galilee.  The Sea of Galilee (which Luke, who has sailed on the Mediterranean, rightfully calls a lake) is the largest freshwater lake in Israel.  More than a quarter of the country gets its fresh water directly or indirectly from it.  The Galilean country side was greener, wetter, and seemed to have more diverse farming and agriculture than some of the other areas we had visited.

One of the first places we went was to the Jordan River, where we renewed our Baptismal vows.  We couldn't go to the place on the Jordan where John probably baptized Jesus because a military base now sits near the site.  Instead we stopped near where the Jordan enters the Sea of Galilee.  We were able to wade in the water there, and bring some of it back with us, perhaps to include in water used for baptisms.

Altar in church over St. Peter's House (Jane photo)
During the first century, Capernaum was a small city where Peter and his family lived.  Most of the rock in the area is basalt, so the local ruins made of basalt were much darker than the limestone used throughout most of the rest of the country.  Visiting Capernaum, we saw the remains of an early synagogue, as well as Peter's house where a paralytic's friends opened the roof to lower him down to be healed.  A modern church was built over the remains of Peter's house.  The entire thing looks a bit like a spaceship, but the worship space is beautiful.  The 360 degree windows have spectacular views, including the Sea of Galilee.  In the middle of the floor, railed off from the main church, is a large piece of glass allowing Peter's house to be seen.  The altar has a colorful mosaic on it.

Fr. Bill Preaching the Beatitudes (Jane photo)
One of the day's highlights was walking down a small cliff to a cave on a hillside overlooking the water.  We left Bill Ellis there, as the rest of us walked down to the bottom.  Fr. Bill read the Beatitudes, and we could all hear him clearly, except when a tour bus went by.  Part of the point of the exercise was to show how Jesus would have taught crowds of thousands and still had people hear him.   We also visited a church on the Mount of the Beatitudes, where Jesus may have spoken them.

Boat Ride (Jane photo)
After lunch of St. Peter's fish (tilapia), we went for a short boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.  Mostly it was just for fun.  While our guide promised that Bishop Sean would show us how to walk on water, everyone stayed in the boat.

Mosaic at Tabgha (Jane photo)
We also visited Tabgha, where two churches are near each other at sites believed to be where two important miracles occurred.  The first is the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.  German Benedictines run a church built over the ruins of a Byzantine church.  In the church floor is a beautiful mosaic of loaves and fishes.  Nearby is a church on the edge of the water, believed to be where Jesus served breakfast to his disciples after the resurrection.

"Table of Christ" Where Jesus served Breakfast (Jane photo)

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