Posting from the hotel lobby seemed to work yesterday, so I’m going to try it again today.
Another wonderful day in the Galilee. This is a beautiful area, full of farms and towns. If you told me I was in the south of France or Italy, I’d believe you – the landscape is similar. It’s hard to ignore the huge difference between this affluent, green and lush part of Israel and the dry landscape and lack of affluence in the West Bank, only an hour or so away. Even the tourists are different. We are noticing many more Americans here than we encountered earlier in the course. Most of them are from the majority of American churches, i.e. the Evangelical tradition. I am not sure if this is because Evangelicals especially appreciate this “home town” area of Jesus and all the preaching and teaching he did here, or because some tours don’t venture into the West Bank territories we’ve been in, or if some Christian traditions don’t enjoy as much the “encrusted” churches of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions that we’ve visited at some of the holy sites. Whatever the case, I’m glad we are getting a wider view (although even so our view of this land is necessarily pretty limited).
Today we had an unscheduled change of schedule. This was because, after a hearty breakfast at the Pilgerhaus and loading up on the bus, we got out of the Pilgerhaus driveway to discover a bike race going on. Apparently the entire road around the Sea of Galilee was closed for Saturday morning recreational bike riding. We watched the riders for a few minutes, then realized we wouldn’t get through for several hours and gave up and went back to the guest house. Rodney thought fast on the fly and switched tomorrow’s free morning with today’s morning activities. So that means on Sunday we’ll see some more holy sites (instead of having quiet time and a Eucharist) and today we had time on our own in the morning, and a Eucharist before dinner.
Connie and I immediately opted for a swim. How could we resist the chance to swim in the Sea of Galilee?
After lunch, we went for a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We ran into the international pilgrim crowd again at the boat dock, chatting with both Ethiopian and Nepali groups. We thought it was pretty cool that the Nepali group, from Kathmandu, had come from one of the highest places on earth to one of the lowest.
The boat ride was beautiful. Once out on the lake, Mike had the crew cut the engines so we could have a worship service. We read the story of Jesus stilling the storm and sang some hymns. Then we just had quiet time to reflect on the lake.
Back at the Pilgerhaus, we had a Saturday evening instead of Sunday morning Eucharist. I was thrilled that Mike asked me to celebrate. We had an outdoor service, and it was a special privilege to celebrate the Eucharist on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, likely within a mile or less of where Jesus fed the 5,000 and invited the disciples to “come and have breakfast.”
Tomorrow we’ll visit a few more Galilee sites, like the Mount of the Beatitudes, and then head back to Jerusalem. Once back at the College, the focus of our last few days will be walking the Way of the Cross, the Via Dolorosa, and retracing the events of Holy Week.