Today we will explore the area around the Sea of Galilee, where much of Jesus’ ministry occurred. Highlights include Capernaum (where Jesus began his public life), Tabgha (the feeding of the 5,000), Mt. of Beatitudes, the Golan Heights, and Caesarea Philippi. We will gather for a Communion service at Tabgha, and end the day with a beautiful sunset cruise on the Sea of Galilee before returning to our hotel. (B, D)
The rainy weather threw us for a bit of a curve today (old rocks with rain on them make for SLIPPERY old rocks with rain on them.). Slowed us a down a bit, and rescheduled our boat tour for tomorrow, but we certainly made the very best of it! The umbrellas and raincoats and ponchos came out, and we were off on more adventures.
Stepping foot into Syria. Well, a part of Syria that is currently occupied by the country of Israel: the Golan Heights in northern Israel. I was expecting a much heavier military presence, but didn't see one. (Doesn't mean they weren't there...). I did see lots of land mines along the road, which gives you the oddest feeling. As in please don't drive off the road, Mr. Bus Driver. And WHY ARE THOSE THERE. And about a hundred other questions about this land in seemingly constant conflict.
The Sea of Galilee was an unexpected joy today. I had expected to be excited, I just didn't expect to be so emotional. It was an incredible sight to see with one's own eye(s), and reflecting on ALL that happened there in the life of Jesus was overwhelming to say the least. Our guides do a great job of dir3ectly connecting us to the Scriptural stories of the land, so we always feel like we've walked into a piece of history. Incredible.
Lunch brought us to a place RIGHT BY the Sea of Galilee, and landed an ENTIRE, St. Peter's fish on our plates. MINE had a shekel IN its mouth, just like the story in Matthew 17. So amusing and so delicious. Delightful, all around.
The rain continued....but turned into SNOW! Yes, the flying white stuff! I was THRILLED, as I had not seen snow in either Wisconsin or Colorado this Christmas, so this was a treat. Idn't make the bus ride any less terrifying, but did bring a new color to the landscape!
Exploring the ruins of Capernaum was fascinating, and reading the scriptures of Mark brought us INTO what had once been a flourishing town. Jesus did SO many things in this town, many of which were healing stories with the people. Incredible amount of ministry and history in one place.
Our adventures for the day landed us at the Mount of Beatitudes - an experience that could warrant an entire blog of its own. We read Matthew 5, 6, and 7 as Seminarians, as our group sat in the silent, round chapel. We ended with singing Amazing Grace together, with the sounds floating into the air. To have read the words of Jesus's sermon on the Mount FROM the Mount was unreal. I felt grounded and inspired and full of hope and prayer and joy, all mixed into one. What a GIFT this trip is to us!