Galilee to Jerusalem

We began our day in Nazareth, at Mount Precipice, where the people of Nazareth tried to kill Jesus. In Luke 4 he opens the scroll from Isaiah and declared the scripture was being fulfilled in his reading. At first those in the synagogue were proud of him as the hometown boy. But they turned on him when he reminded them they would say "physician heal thyself." They were not so excited about Jesus being the prophet like Elijah. They view of the Jezreel Valley below was beautiful.
We visited the Church of the Annunciation, the largest church in the Middle East. The church next door dedicated to Joseph is much smaller, more humble. We read the story of the annunciation and talked about the qualities Mary possessed that made her a great woman to be the mother of Jesus. Walking down through Nazareth and then up to the Nazareth Villagse at the YMCA was our first foray into a busy street with restaurants, shops, and all the smells, sights and sounds. The Nazareth Village is a recreation of a first century village that Jesus might have lived in.
As we learned about wine making and new wineskins, our guide told us this particular location Jesus would have known about because wine making was a community event in Nazareth. We saw a shepherd with his sheep, a wooler, builder, an olive press, wheat and tares and a terraced vineyard. We ended in a synagogue like the one Jesus would have grown up in and then taught in. We prayed for our children and grandchildren that "the grace of God be on them" as it was on Jesus as he grew up in a family and community of faith. It was a moving experience as we shared the names and everyone agreed with "amen." Caesarea Maritime is a wonderful example of Herod's vision and legacy. He built a port, palace and temple in honor of Caesar. The apostle Paul was imprisoned in Herod's palace for two years while he waited for his trial by Felix, then Festus before going to Rome and to his death. In Acts 21-24 Paul defended his citizenship, both of heaven and of Rome by telling the story of Jesus and his conversion, as well as appealing to Caesar. Interestingly, Festus says in Acts that he could find no reason for Paul's execution and if he hadn't appealed to Caesar he would have freed Paul. Maybe Paul wanted to go to Rome, where his influence grew exponentially.

We drove to Jerusalem, through the West Bank: a contrast of settlements and checkpoints while listening to the song "Jerusalem" on the bus. The next day it's an early morning of Bethlehem—more contrasts in the city of peace.



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