Posts Tagged “Galilee”

Following our visit to Nazareth we headed to Tiberius next to the Sea of Galilee. Our hotel, the Arbel, was a tip. Check the picture of the pool below…

The night was saved by a wander down the hill to a great little pub to celebrate Sam’s birthday.

In the morning we left our horrible hotel for a day around the lake at some of the significant places of Jesus’ lakeside ministry.

We visited the Church of the Beatitudes where I think I managed to redeem last year’s sermon ‘choke’ on the site of the most famous sermon ever preached!

Next came the church of the multiplication which commemorates the miracle of the loaves and fishes. I like this church and I love the pool in the courtyard with the carp in it!

Mensa Christi, or the primacy of St Peter gave us the chance to spend some time by the shore and even have a paddle. We tried hard to walk on the top but just couldn’t manage.

Our final visit of the day was to Capernaum, the home of Peter and the base of Jesus’ ministry. The village has been excavated and over the place they found a house church they have built a spaceship type church. I’ll post some pictures of it when I get home.

It’s a brilliant place to visit and gives a real sense of the layout of the village and how important the Synagogue was.

We stayed the night at the amazing Jericho Resort in Jericho. Our first night in Palestine was strange. The hotel is luxurious (we got a great deal!) but empty (why we got the great deal!). We had the whole place to ourselves. A well earned rest by the pool and a great meal revived our tired legs.

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Stop 4 The Primacy of St Peter (Mensa Christi)

Jesus and Peter

The spot where Peter declared Jesus to be the Son of God is a beautiful place next to the Sea of Galilee.  This is where Jesus supposedly met the disciples on the shore and sent them out to fish on the lake.  When they did they caught 153 fish (apparently the number of species of fish living in the lake).

The church is simple with beautiful windows and a rock in the centre of the church, appropriate given its dedication to the rock Jesus would build His church on.

The one thing I didn’t do was wander down to the water’s edge.  I’m not sure why not.  Perhaps it was the heat or the business, perhaps the speed boat buzzing around, but I didn’t, and now I’m home I wish I had.

Stop 6 The Church of the Beatitudes

Church of the Beatitudes

We had lunch here then visited the beautiful church which marks the venue of the Sermon on the Mount.  The church sits on a hillside overlooking the Galilee.  The sanctuary is octagonal and each of the eight sides has a window with the words of one of the Beatitudes in Latin.

We had spent some time with the group on our first day thinking about the beatitudes and it felt appropriate, no matter how difficult, to be there with the young people thinking about peace, mourning, persecution and blessing.

Stop 7 The Jesus Boat


Relief from the 42C heat came in the shape of a boat.  For me, this was one of the highlights of not only the day, but the trip.  I mentioned in a previous post that almost all of the Holy Sites have a church built over them.  This one, obviously, doesn’t.

As we got on the boat the wind started to pick up and it was easy to imagine how quickly storms would blow up and to see the disciples huddled in the back of a small boat, riding out the storm.

Our boat was slightly different though… our’s had dancing!  We had around an hour sailing on the lake, thinking, reflecting and having great fun.

Stop 7 Nazareth

Basilica of the Annunciation

Our final stop of the day was the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

We arrived at closing time and Gerry and I were almost thrown out immediately.  We entered the courtyard and started taking photos, unaware the 6pm was closing time and prayer time.  The caretaker came running towards us shouting ‘No photos!  Get out!!!’.  Not a great start!  But it was explained we were with the group and we were allowed into the church.  I’m so glad we were.

I have no photos from inside the church which I’m desperately sad about.  It is a stunning building.  Beautiful and modern and spacious and holy.

It’s the place where Jesus lived and worked in the middle of a busy town with shops and lots of people going about their lives, just like Nazareth today.

Faith is life, and life is faith.  This whistle stop tour of the places where Jesus walked taught me that.  We visited places where miracles happened, but those miracles all involved people.  Real people searching for wholeness, healing and love.  I think that’s what I found in the Holy Land.

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The Holy Sites (day 5)

6.00am: Wake up

7.30am: Bus trip north to Haifa, the Sea of Galilee and Nazareth

Stop 1 – Haifa – Elijah’s Cave on Mt Carmel, Haifa

I knew that the Holy Sites were places where important Biblical events had happened, and I knew that there were churches built over the top of most of them but I don’t think anything quite prepares you for  the reality of what that’s actually like.

Our first stop was Elijah’s cave, which, as expected, is inside a church.  Weird, but kinda cool.  At each stop one of the young people read a related Bible story in Arabic then one of our American friends (Eric, Harold of George) said a few words about what the significance might be for us today.  The challenge here was the same one Elijah issued to the people; will you worship the little gods you have created or will you worship the one true God?  Funny how things are so different but so similar.

Elijah's Cave

Stop 2 – Cana of Galilee

Up a back street in a small town in the middle of nowhere seems an appropriate place for Jesus’ first miracle.

Excavations at Cana

Stop 3 – Church of the Heptapegon

The site of the feeding of the 5,000.  The heat of the day was starting to have an effect.  Standing around outside the church was almost impossible, hanging around inside was almost as bad.  The church is beautiful but just after we arrived three busloads of other tourists piled in and any sense of peace, wonder or holiness was shattered.

On reflection it’s funny that I should feel that large numbers of people in this place should take away from the experience.  5,000 people turned up to listen to Jesus teach.  The thing I’ve never understood about this story is why they wouldn’t have food with them?  We were on a bus trip for a day and had enough food and water for a week.  What were these people thinking?  Or was this a miracle that was more about sharing?  About community?

The church has a beautiful courtyard with a lilly pond.  The flowers are spectacular but are surrounded by buzzing bees, all working together, all important, all contributing so there is enough for all.  Perhaps that’s the kind of miracle our world needs?

Water Lilly

We had ice-lollies instead of bread and fish as the temperature soared to 42C!

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