Our early morning calls at 6.00am, saw us rising before the dawn, but at least well in time for breakfast and then on to the coach for the start of our journey away from The Sea of Galilee and Tiberius.
The view as we left Tiberius was stunning and looking back you could see the harp shape of the Lake. The sun was now well risen at 8.00am above the hills to the west. I wondered if I would ever come back.
After an hour we arrived in Cana, and walked in the crocodile formation that for so often I had asked children to walk in. Actually it was quite hard to stay focused on walking in line and the cars which also used the pedestrian path, gave us warning sounds from behind.
The small church where the wedding took place was tucked away in the streets of Cana and we waited outside for a while.
Inside we saw the very large vessels which were the type of wine jugs where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning the water to wine. Mary, mother of Jesus, had asked Jesus to do something to help as the hosts had run out of wine. Jesus was at first unwilling, but then turned the full jugs of water into wine. If Jesus was about to be a ‘party goer’, this would be an invite forever!
It was planned that we should have Eucharist, here, but that was not to be as we were not able to use their vessels, a different type of Christian it seems.
We went back to the coach, heading onwards to where we may be able to celebrate the Eucharist.
By now the sun was shining and the day lay brilliantly open before us. Mount Tabor, a perfectly shaped mountain arose from the flat plain and looked magnificent in the distance.
We climbed up the hill in the coach, which Papa Abraham was driving with his usual care and speed to the parking spaces,where we continued to the summit in smaller vehicles, which took the 180 degree bends at alarming speeds.
Once at the summit we could see for miles and we walked into the Church of the Transfiguration, which sat above the rocks where Jesus stood with Moses and Elijah.
This may be one of the most beautiful churches I have ever been into, I am running out of adjectives to describe the sense of awe and wonder!
The mosaic of the Transfiguration above and around the altar drew you in and, understanding what had happened on this very spot, made the closeness between heaven and earth seem almost touchable, but just not quite, or at least maybe not just yet…
We were able to celebrate the Eucharist here and to use the vessels too, there was a space for us outside, as we were a large group (I wondered if I had heard that before somewhere, something about five thousand?)
Underneath the bamboo covers Bishop Alan celebrated, and we shared a welcome Eucharist together. The sound of the wind whistled through the bamboo as it gathered quickly at times and was mixed with the gentle sound of rain as clouds had gathered briefly.
Bishop Alan talked to us about the divinity and humanity of Jesus in this place, the wisdom of his mother Mary to start his ministry, and how he shared this with his disciples, on Mount Tabor.
Descending Mount Tabor we journeyed on to Nazareth.
Nazareth in Galilee… could we actually be visiting this special place from the Bible, the place where Jesus grew up with Mary and Joseph. A place, held dear, in my mind. But what would it actually be like?
I was surprised how close it was to Mount Tabor and this must have been a favourite view for Jesus in his youth.
When we exited the coach and walked towards the centre, there was a very large notice from a Muslim group quoting the Koran and telling us that we were wrong. An indicator that the mix of religions in Nazareth was very evident.
We had some lunch of meat or falafel and pitta bread and a welcome stop before we went to many churches.
A little way up the street we came to the Church of the Anunciation, which was the site where Angel Gabriel met with Mary. A wonderful church and on the site also of the house where Mary spent her childhood.
We then walked to the Church of St Joseph and talked about the carpenter shop, walked on to the Synagogue church which was where Jesus came as a boy.
In complete contrast we visited the Eastern Greek Orthodox church which is built over a stream , from which you can take holy water.
As we left Nazareth and journeyed on to Bethlehem, it was a reminder of how far that first journey was for Mary and Joseph and a reminder for me of how different our next few days were going to be.
About this journey?
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