An Ecumenical Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Monday - North to Galilee

An early start on Monday to avoid traffic. 7.15am!  We said our farewells to Yusef and the Star Hotel and made our way slowly through the check-point and then through the Jerusalem traffic.

We had one last look at Temple Mount just before the road swept into a tunnel and headed down from Jerusalem to Jericho.  It wasn't long before we were heading up the Jordan Valley,, a transform fault or rift valley, where the Arabian Plate is slipping past the African Plate.  It has wonderful geology and was all shrouded in mist!

We passed the location of John the Baptist's baptising in the Jordan, accessible only from the Jordanian side of the river.

And then we made our way up to Nazareth to the one and only spring where you know Jesus came with Mary. 

  We had a lovely lunch at the YMCA and glimpsed the new Nazareth theme park exploring life and society in the time of Jesus.

We went on to the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation and shared thoughts on the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary, Jesus' childhood, and went on to reflect on the very first preaching he shared at the synagogue in Nazareth and the way it set out Jesus' program of good news for the poor, release for the oppressed, and sight for the blind.

It was fascinating to see another Catholic church with its table in the centre and seating all around it.  It was fascinating hearing some of our Roman Catholic friends speaking of the way in which there are movements within the Roman Catholic church to return to the simplicity of the pre-Constantinian church and to have a focus on 'breaking the Scriptures' as you gather around the table.

We shared our reflections over an archaeological dig in the grounds of the church exposing houses, shops and a street from  Roman days.

Here Joseph, the tekton, would have plied his trade, quite possibly working on the re-building of the nearby Roman city of Sepphoris.

Our pilgrimage took us on to nearby Cana, where we made our way to a beautifully peaceful church, where Robert Pestell led our service celebrating marriage and family life, and remembering partners who have died.

It was one of those special moments in our pilgrimage.

Our worship over, we made our way to our next destination, the resort town of Tiberias, a Roman city established by Herod Antipas as Jesus was growing up.

We made our way to the hotel and checked in.  During the evening we had a planning meeting and then drew the evening to a close.

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