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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Memorable Day by the Sea of Galilee

Woke up early to a beautiful morning on the shores of the Sea of the Galilee.
The seaside by our kibbitz
After a nice breakfast at our seaside hotel, we boarded a bus to begin an incredible day. Our first stop was the Mount of the Beatitudes where Jesus delivered his sermon on the mount. 
The church on the Mount of the Beatitudes
Not only is it a beautiful setting, there are some geographical realities of the region that were fun to learn about and see. We shared a wonderful time of reflection together under the trees and then enjoyed some time wandering around. Not only is the landscape gorgeous, we were also traveling in the footsteps of Jesus. Hard to get my mind around.

From there we went to the Primacy of St. Peter. This site, right on the sea of Galilee, is the historical site of Peter's reconciliation to Jesus after Christ's resurrection. Perhaps you may recall that Jesus was on the beach, preparing breakfast while Peter was out fishing. When Peter recognized Jesus, he jumped out of the boat and ran to him and Jesus commissioned him to "feed his sheep". The church is built over the rock where Jesus and Peter allegedly shared that moment.
The Table of Christ where Jesus offered Peter breakfast post-resurrection
  We took time to stick our feet in the Galilee. The water was warm and I would've loved to have a swim. I found it funny that there were signs forbidding both swimming and grilling. I guess many would like to reenact the historical scene that took place on those shores a couple of thousand years ago! This spot was also near where the feeding of the five thousand might've taken place.

A short bus ride down the road took us to Capernaum, Peter's hometown and a place where Jesus lived for a few years of his ministry. The synagogue, Peter's house, and other residential dwellings have all been uncovered. 
Synagogue in Capernaum
Capernaum is a significant place in the New Testament and I look forward to having these visual images of the place when I encounter it in scripture.Much of the imagery in the teachings of Jesus grow out of a culture that milled flour. 
Peter's house
References to Christ being the bread of life and warnings about being better off throwing yourself into the sea with a millstone around your neck rather than causing harm to others come into clearer focus as you stand in the place where these teachings were originally rendered. 
A flour millstone 
After lunch, a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee awaited us. Doug and I had been asked to lead in the sharing of the Lord's supper while in the middle of the lake. It was a special moment as we stood around the elements of bread and wine. Doug shared of some of the stormy times we've had over the past year and recalled the disciples' fear in the very spot where we were now sailing, when Jesus was sleeping through the storm and the disciples were asking, "Lord, do you not care about us at all?" There were times when we felt this. But we were reminded that God can calm the most violent storm, even the ones that rage within us if we will indeed just trust. It was a warm and moving experience to serve communion to our dear colleagues whom we have grown to love so much.

An evening swim at sunset refreshed our souls and body after a beautiful, hot day of touring in this holy land.

The internet coverage is a bit sketchy at times, but I will try to update as much as I can. We are having a great time in this beautiful and incredible place. Sharing it amongst the warmth of our dear colleagues in International ministry is beyond description. Tomorrow...Nazareth and Cana!