Welcome to the LCM Holy Land blog – I’m Leif Bakken.
Sure, people talk about the Stations of the Cross and walking them, like we did, but what does it mean to really walk in his shoes? Sandals would maybe be a better word. Day six of the trip focused on Jesus’ life. We started the day with a longer bus ride to Nazareth to check out the childhood home of the Savior. First stop was the Church (or Basilica) of the Annunciation. This is where they believe the angel came to Mary to tell her about giving birth to the Savior. It had a beautiful altar and sanctuary. Across the walk way was St. Joseph’s Church. This church was dedicated to the father of Christ and built on top of the home of Joseph. This had one of many mikvahs (we’ll discuss that later) used in that time.
We left the town of Nazareth and headed toward my favorite spot in the Galilee region, the Mount of the Beatitudes. On the top of this mountain was a church dedicated to the scripture of Jesus preaching on that mountain. The opportunity to hear that story on location and take in the beautiful garden surrounding that point is indescribable, and has to be taken in by anyone who gets the opportunity to do so.
Our next destination was up the road at Capernaum, along the Sea of Galilee. The front gates read “Capharnaum, The Town of Jesus” right on them. This was also the hometown of Simon Peter, the ever so faithful disciple of Jesus. We were able to observe the many remains of buildings from the time Peter was living in the town, along with the new octagonal church built over the site.
We then went to a restaurant called St. Peter’s Restaurant, on the Sea of Galilee. It served the fish called St. Peter’s Fish, which is caught fresh everyday to serve to their customers. Who’d have thought? Such a clever name for an eatery serving the fish of St. Peter, near St. Peter’s home on the Sea of Galilee.
Another opportunity came up when we visited the Church of the Multiplication, not far from Peter’s place. This was the sight where Jesus fed the 5,000. The five loaves and two fish mosaic, along with many other fantastic mosaics, were in this church’s floor.
Not far from there was the Church of the Primacy of Peter. A small church sits on this spot over the rock that was believed Jesus told Peter he would be the rock of the church. This was, yes, another chance for the group to take in another church but also go to the Sea of Galilee. Many of us took off our socks and shoes, rolled up our pants, and walked in the water. One could say we walked in the water Jesus walked on.
The next stop was a Kibbutz. These are communities that used to put everything in a collective pot and everyone was equal in profits from everything done to sustain the community. Today the work and profits aren’t necessarily shared but there is a collective tax that goes together to take care of the community and help people who may need help from becoming sick. We met with two women from this community. Our hostess had her hands full with kids running around but she still gave us her time to tell us about what happens in a Kibbutz. The other woman was a Rabbi who ran the mikvah. Mikvahs are the spiritual cleansing bath as a last step in becoming Jewish or for anytime use to clean the spirit.
At each of these destinations we read from scripture, reflecting on what it meant and how real it was to all of us. The stories told throughout the Bible are amazing to think about, but when you stand on the ground where they happened, it’s an even more amazing thing to be part of.
Keep it tuned into the LCM blog post. For everyone on the Holy Land trip, I’m Leif Bakken and we’ll catch you next time.
– Leif Bakken