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