Galilee: Day Two

The sunrise was beautiful Saturday morning. We began our day in Akko, (also called Acre or in the first century, Ptolemais), which was the Crusader capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. We toured some magnificent Crusader buildings, all discovered in the last few decades under sand. A meeting hall, church, secret tunnel all underground and built in medieval times out of stone by Crusaders from different parts of Europe. // We didn’t visit Akko on our trip two years ago, but it’s rich with Crusader history and is mentioned in Acts 21 by it’s former name, Ptolemais. Paul left the Ephesians in with tears and made his way back to Jerusalem. He stopped in Ptolemais and Tyre where the Christians warned him not to go to Jerusalem. In the following chapters of Acts Paul is arrested and held in Herod’s palace Caesarea Maritime (where we will visit on Monday) and then made his final voyage across the same sea to his death in Rome. It’s a short passage, but it reminds us that Paul not only used Roman roads but also the Mediterranean to spread the gospel.
I discovered that Francis of Assisi also traveled though Akko to and from his visit with the Sultan of Egypt in his effort to convert him or at least to be martyred. His mission failed, but his visit helped to warm the Sultan’s heart to Francis, allowing him to visit and preach at sites in the Holy Land. Eventually the Franciscans were granted the holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, in large part due to the grace and peace of Francis. I love the fact that Francis ties together our sabbatical from 2010 with our sabbatical this week. // Mount Carmel gave us the opportunity to read about Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. The story is dramatic: Elijah’s courage as one who “stood before God” and against Ahab and God’s revealed as the one true God. The vistas are also remarkable of the Jezreel Valley below and the landscape all around us.
Megiddo, the 20 layers of civilization. We sang “Great is thy Faithfulness” looking over the generations of God’s faithfulness and man’s efforts to conquer each otherand worship God. Megiddo is the “hill of battles” and Armageddon has been the site of wars for thousands of years from the Egyptians to Napoleon to the British. The storm clouds kept threatening, but there was always a clearing in the storm that kept passing us by. //
Renewal of vows at Cana, celebrating marriage (John 2) and the picture of marriage as the relationship between Christ and the church. Once a predominately Christian city, the population is now only 18% of the total population.
Sharing stories. An important part of pilgrimage is giving thanks for all we see and meet and celebrating by the stories we tell. Last night at dinner we each shared a highlight of the day. Everyone comes with different motivations and desire, different timing in their lives where God is at work. It's great to hear those stories.
Morning Prayer. We are using Northumbria Community liturgy each morning which gives us some rhythm, seeking God together, praying for each other, and ending with the benediction: "May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you wherever he may send you. May he guide you through the wilderness and protect us through the storm. May he bring you home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you. May he bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors."

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