Tuesday, 12 September 2017

By blue Galilee

Our last full day in the Holy Land was spent around the shores of the Sea of Galilee. We started off with a walk along the 'Jesus trail', a country path of the kind Jesus would  have travelled along, before heading for the lake-side church at Magdala, full of beautiful portrayals of Gospel scenes, and an extraordinary boat shaped pulpit-cum-altar with views of the Sea of Galilee as a backdrop.

Jesus calming the storm - chapel at Magdala

Next up was a boat trip across the Sea of Galilee. The custom of the boat owners is to hoist the flag of the native country of the visitors and to play their national anthem. So with the Union Jack flying over the Sea of Galilee we rose  to sing God Save the Queen. The patriotic Bermondsey crowd  sung the loudest.  Of course.
Union Jack flying over Galilee

The views across the lake were stunning. In the middle of the lake they switched off the engine and in the beautiful quiet and peace we heard from the Bible of the occasion when Jesus calmed the storm on that very water, commanding the wind and waves to be still, leaving a bewildered and terrified band of disciples crying 'who is this man? Even the wind and waves obey him.'

Then things got lively as the crew taught us some Israeli dances.

I must remember next time I do a spot of Israeli dancing not to do it when the temperature is 35C, but it was great fun.

We then had a kind of impromptu praise party with karaoke versions of 'this little light of mine', 'How great thou art' and 'My Jesus my saviour' being belted out across the lake by an enthusiastic band of pilgrims.  It was a truly wonderful hour.

Leader Colin & Jenny

Next up we saw the Jesus boat, a wonderfully preserved first century boat, discovered in the mud of the lake.

Then it was to the Mount of Beattitudes to hear words from Jesus's Sermon on the Mount on this high point overlooking the lake

Just before lunch we stopped by the lake side to recall the occasion when the risen Lord Jesus prepared breakfast for the disciples on the lakeshore as they returned from a night's fishing. We read from the Scriptures, we sang, we drank in the silence and we marveled. It was an Emmaus moment - one of those occasions when you say 'didn't our hearts burn within us?'

After lunch by the lakeshore we went to Capernaum to see the archaeological remains and to view the beautiful modern church that has been built there to round off a memorable day in Galilee.

And now for some dancing...

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