As with all the other days today has been a mixture of wonderful things, challenging things and disturbing things.
firstly we climbed Mount Tabor, sounds good doesn’t it? Actually the bus took us part way and a fleet of taxi’s the rest of the way, but it was exhilarating sitting in a mini-bus type taxi as they hurtled around the hair pin bends on a road barely two vehicles wide! At one point the driver even took both hands off the wheel, but thankfully that was at the only straight stretch. As everywhere else the venue contained a Chapel, this time commemorating the Transfiguration; the meeting between Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Lovely Chapel, but outside the views were stunning?
we then journeyed into a busy, bustling Nazareth to visit “the Nazareth experience”, set in the garden of the YMCA. It tells of what 1st century Nazareth would have been like. Outside there was a shepherd tending his sheep, a donkey owner, some others working a field, a carpenters shop and a home. Alison was able to answer a question about grape treading that no one else could answer. When I asked her how she knew it turns out it was in a cookery programme shed been watching a couple of weeks ago! Show off !
Very interesting talk and tour but topped when we came to a replica meeting place and here we were reminded of the story of Jesus taking up the scroll and reading it. One of our number, Penny, was invited to read the same passage using her kindle hidden behind the scroll. It was one of those moments, that have happened several times this week when a silence has just descended over us and no one has wanted to break it. Truly God-given.
we then walked the streets of Nazareth, firstly to visit Christchurch, the local Anglican Parish Church, where we were made most welcome by the Vicar and his wife. This had been facilitated because of a twinning between his church in Nazareth and the church of one of our party, in Bakewell. Very simple and homely visit.
We then moved over to the Catholic Church of the Annunciation. Built fairly recently in the ’60s I warmed to this building. Commemorating the announcement to Mary that she was to have a child, I found it rather simple on the ground floor which included a caved area believed to have been Mary’s home (!). On the floor above it was deliberately grander. The simple child Mary had been elevated truly to a position of exaltation. Gloriously beautiful windows and decor. Picture below………
Following this we walked across town to the second Church of the Annunciation, this time owned by the Orthodox Church. A much smaller building, but magnificently ornate and contains the spring used by Mary. We know this to be true because this spring dates back over 2000 years and is the knot one in the area. Consequently the Orthodox Church had built their premises here, nick naming the building as “Mary’s well”. Which is the correct site of the visitation of an angel to Mary? Who knows and to be honest who cares? Sadly, in my view, too many do care. I was disturbed again by the crush to fill bottles of water and also by one lady to wash her face in the spring. Definitely not my tradition and I struggle to understand it. I actually had to leave because I found myself churned up over it and yet, in many ways, it was no different to the veneration of a piece of wall in Jerusalem, where I’d been so impressed with the devotion of the Jews.
The older I get the more mixed up I feel and the more I realise I’ve yet to learn..
The day concluded with an early return to Tiberius, giving Alison and I time to walk into the town and experience a Jewish market and a very westernised high street. Having spent the morning in first century Nazareth, the early part if the afternoon in a current century Nazarene church and ending in a bang-up-to-date shopping street in Tiberius it really has been a day of contrasts. Tomorrow a trip on Galilee to begin with follow by a Galilean tour to bring our final full day to its close.
When can I come back?