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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Following Jesus in the Galilee

some of our Nigerian friends
Did I mention that there are about 300 Nigerian pilgrims here in the hotel with us!  Very fun.  Today, one of their evangelists made sure that we all loved Jesus, treated us to a little sermon/testimony and then prayed for us.  I'm not sure about all his theology but he said that 2012 would be a good year.  One can only say Amen to that!  

Inside the church at Cana

Outside the courtyard in Cana

The Happy Couple
We started today with a great surprise.  We went to Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle at the wedding there.   It was actually the feast day of this event and the church was all decked out for a special mass and celebration.  The bells were ringing almost non stop.  I'll post a video of our guide trying to talk over the bells.  We also renewed our wedding vows---I know how sweet.  But what a cool place to do this on the feast day itself.

Courtyard of the Church of the
Annunciation in Nazareth

Kelly looking into Mary's house

Chapel that takes in Mary's house in Nazareth

Door leading into the church
of the Annunciation

Facade of the Annunciation Church
Bummer, all the way to Nazareth to be called a 'loser.'
Mt Tabor or Transfiguration

View going up Mt. Tabor

The Church of the Transfiguration
From Cana we moved to Nazareth--Jesus' home tome.  It is a big city which is an Israeli Arab city, about half the folks are Muslim and half Christian.  I'll post a picture of a warning  to half the population.  We visited the church of the Annunciation which is built over a house that is said to be that of Mary and where the angel Gabriel came to speak to her.  Is it really?   Who knows, but it is a very old site with many churches and chapel predating the current one.  It is a beautiful church and whether or not it is Mary's house below (visible by the way from excavation) it is a wonderful place to remember, pray and hope to become as obedient in faith as the Mother of our Lord.

From there we headed up Mt. Tabor, the mountain of Transfiguration.  Where Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus in the presence of Peter, James and John.  Really a wonderful spot, with beautiful views and a car ride to the top, not for the weak of heart!

Ruins of Roman Theater built in 1st Century AD
Time of Jesus.  This is one of the Decapolis cities

Walking down one of the
main streets.  Still beautiful
mosaics on the floors of shops

Broken columns of marble once mighty city now in ruins
almost forgotten.  30,000 people lived here in 500 A D
We then traveled past such places as Nain, where Jesus raised the widows son from the dead.  To be honest every time you turn around you are passing a place of some importance.  We traveled next to Bet Shean, which is one of the decapolis cities (Greek Cities) mentioned by the Gospels and a place that Jesus would have certainly visited.  This is a gem.  An archaeological park that preserves Roman roads, columns, shops and mosaics and a great Theater built in the 1st Century AD  (time of Jesus).   It is also famous in the old testament as the place where the Philistines hung the body of Saul and his sons (The first king of Israel) on the city gates.   

You climb the "tel" to reach the oldest ruins and great view

Looking down
Egyptian Hieroglyphics found here from when
the Egyptians used this as a way to control Palestine

Up top ruins from 5000 BC!  Egyptian occupation, King David

and Solomon.  Amazing History in one place
When you climb the 'tel' or mountain you also get a glimpse of the famous history here.  You see remnants of a 4th to 5th Millennium settlement  (That's 4000 to 5000 BC).  Ruins of King Davids and Solomon's fortress, and most surprisingly ruins of an Egyptian fortress which had a continued presence there early on, and again after the death of the Israelites in the 8th century BC.   What a place.

Finally from there we went to the River Jordon.  Right were it leaves the Galilee we had an affirmation of our Baptism, sung "Shall we Gather at the River" and just enjoyed.   Everywhere you go you can hear the voices of history, speaking out quietly, sometimes with more intensity, but always there.  

Here's how close to Jordan we are.  Their flag on the hill

Baptism spot on Jordan River

Why I prefer baptismal founts... muskrats in the river

Kelly and I at the Jordan River
Tomorrow more of the Galilee!

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