Galilee: Sunrise to Sunset
We arrived Thursday afternoon to cold and rain. It’s been raining since Tuesday. There is snow on the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon to the north and there was snow in Jerusalem. It rained all through the night and a storm was forecasted for today. We rearranged our itinerary today to avoid the rain, and except for some morning showers we had clouds but no rain. It made for a beautiful day for Capernaum, Mount of Beatitudes, River Jordan, Caesarea Philippi and boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. // A few hightlights: Amy and I walked/ran down to the town of Tiberias and the promendade. It was a brisk morning with a beautiful sunrise over the Sea of Galilee. I'm impressed again this year by the natural beauty of this lake and the sunrise that Jesus and the disciples would have seen 2000 years ago. It's a great way to start the day. // After breakfast we began with a stop at the Church of Multiplication in Tagba, which commemorates the loaves and fishes in a church with an original byzantine era mosaic floor. We continued to Capernaum where Peter and Andrew, their mother, James and John and the Zebedee family. lived Of all the places in Israel where something or someone is highlighted, they are 99% sure we were looking at the foundation of Peter’s home, and that it was a place of worship as early as the second century. // This house is where Jesus made his center of ministry in the Galilee—healing of Peter’s mother, the man lowered through the roof, and where everyone brought their sick to be healed. It’s right on the shore of the lake where Jesus saw the fishermen and asked them to follow him. // The synagogue in Capernaum is a fourth century building, built on a second century building, which was built on an early building where Jesus taught, and where they would have all gathered for worship. In the first century the synagogue was a gathering place for reading and teaching scriptures, not a place of prayer sacrifice—both were reserved for the temple in Jerusalem. Paula taught at the synagogue (where the man with a demon shrieked in Mark 1), which has some beautiful architectural details. // Mount of Beatitudes is a beautiful setting overlooking the lake, and set up the hill from where Jesus taught. We did lectio divina with the Beatitudes, then shared what word of phrase God was speaking to us. My words were “mourn” and “peacemaker”; both surprising words to be connected to “blessed.” “Blessed are they that mourn” is not always understood or welcomed by those who are grieving, but we know there is an opportunity for God to be at work in special ways. And peacemaking is so important, whether within the church, or the family or between nations--especially those just five miles away. Peacemakers will be called “children of God.” // We drove an hour north to the Jordan River where we remembered our baptisms, and I read Romans 6 which reminds us that in baptism we have died with Christ so that we can live for him. One person was baptized for the first time—a very special time for all of us. We visited Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asked the disciples “who do you say I am?” and then back down to the Sea of Galilee for the last boat ride of the day before the early closing for sabbath. // The Sea of Galilee was spectacular. The rays of sun shimmering on patches of the lake, storm clouds to the east, north and south, but not a drop of rain. It gave us the experience of being on the lake in a storm (like Mark 4 and 6) but the water was calm and peaceful. The sun began to drop behind the Arbel, which is the dramatic cliff that marks the pass from Magdala (home of Mary Magdalene) to Nazareth. The green hills surrounding the lake remind us this is not the arid wilderness but the lush, “life-giving” Galilee. // We reflected on those lake passages where Jesus was asleep on the boat and walking on water. They were amazed and learned to trust his power and authority, even over the wind and waves. Do we expect Jesus to amaze us still? What great thing is he about to do next? Like the disciples, we can trust that Jesus is not a ghost to be afraid of, but comes near to be present with us. // Needless to say, we had some great stories to share at dinner. What a full, meaningful, and impactful first day.