Saturday, May 12, 2012

Golan Heights to the Galilee

We followed the familiar route on foot out of the narrow streets of the old city of Nazareth this morning to be greeted in the newer part of the city by a smaller bus than we had travelled in for the past couple of days.  Our new bus (with the same faithful driver) made conversations even easier as we moved from site to site on another full day.

We headed north where our first stop was the ancient city of Dan, where we sat at the city gates like the rulers of old and heard the stories from Genesis and 1 Kings about that ancient city (parts of it from ~2,000 BCE) in a lush and fertile land.

Visiting Caesarea Philippi was a striking experience, as we wandered through places of worship for Pan and other Greek gods, and remembered that it was near this city that Jesus asked his disciples: "Who do you say that I am?"  What are the tempting options before us today, the ones that offer power and abundance, as we hear that voice that calls us to speak words of faith?

The theme of declaring who we follow continued later in the day when we visited a spot on the Jordan River where busloads of people from around the world come to get baptized.  Before arriving there, we had a group devotional on the theme of baptism at the spot where it is remembered that Jesus healed a man of a legion of demons and sent a herd of pigs into the sea.  And after seeing the huge scene with long lines of people in white robes being baptized in various ways, we spent part of our drive back talking about the theme even more.  What did this all mean?

There were other fascinating parts of the day, like eating lunch in a Druze village, and just starting to dip our toes into some current political context as we visited the Golan Heights, sat in spots where we looked down into Lebanon and Syria, and crawled through an old bunker.

The days are full, but we come to the end of them with much to talk about, much to write in our journals, and far too much to even be able to fully articulate.  Tomorrow we start hiking the Jesus Trail, and I look forward to a spacious place in which we can continue to reflect on what we have already seen and heard in such a short time.

~Alissa (Faith Partner)

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