Israel Trip—Day 2

January 19, 2007

Caesar Resort Hotel, Tiberius, Israel
On the shores of the Sea of Galilee

And I was trying to get to the quintessential moment, which was not particularly emotional, just one of those facts that come along during the tired part of the afternoon, before we stopped for lunch at a kibbutz, and by the way did you know that at one kibbutz in Israel, they raise pigs. Yes, they do, and I know what the Old Testament says, but they do. They raise pigs, slaughter them, dress them, and they make the best bacon (Abed put his fingers to his lips to show us how good it is) and they provide it for the U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet. Cool story.

View from the Back of the BusSo we’ve finished Caesarea by the Sea, and Mt. Carmel, and Megiddo, and we were on our way to the kibbutz for lunch, when Abed started talking about three mountains on the other side of the Jezreel Valley. “That’s Mount Gilboa where Saul and his sons died in battle with the Philistines. Over there is the mountain where Gideon defeated the Midianites. Next to it is Mount Tabor, which many people believe is the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus.” Trying to be helpful, I said, “Three mountains and three Bible stories–Saul, Gideon and Jesus.” Abed said, “Oh, but there’s much more. Mount Tabor was the site of Deborah and Barak’s famous victory over Sisera and his 900 iron chariots (Judges 4).” And the thought crystallizes slowly that you have stepped back in time and entered not just the land of the Bible but the story of the Bible itself. Every mountain, every hill, every river, and every ancient building has a story to tell.

Tonight we are sleeping a few feet from the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Tomorrow we’ll take a boat ride in a replica of a first-century fishing boat, and we’ll remember the story of Jesus walking on this water and calming the troubled seas. Then it’s on to Capernuam and farther north and east to Caesarea Philippi.

Meanwhile, all is well with our band of pilgrims. We are a very agreeable bunch, I must say. Taking pictures is a big part of any tour. Because most people have digital cameras, I’m downloading all their pictures (over 1000 just from yesterday and today) onto my computer. We will give each person a DVD after the tour with all the pictures on it–a virtual encyclopedic reminder of everything we’ve seen. Abed at CaesareaTonight we had a treat because this is Friday night–the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath, meaning that Tiberius is virtually deserted instead of being a bustling town with the streets filled with people. But when we went to the hotel dining room, we found it jammed with Jewish families celebrating–yes, that is the operative word–celebrating the gift of the Sabbath. At one table young men were singing and beating their hands on their table, at another a family stood for the Sabbath blessing, each wearing a head covering. It was noisy and crowded and exciting to see so many families with young children enjoying the gift of the Sabbath, a reminder that God’s gifts are given for our blessing. Nick and Mark and Eryn and Dana and Joy Keuer went out on the town, which tonight meant going across the street to an Internet cafe. After I downloaded the pictures onto my computer, Pam Stewart, Kathryn McBride and Ken and Mary Heffley stayed to look at them. At the moment, it’s after midnight and the hotel lobby (the only place I can get on the Internet) is almost deserted. It’s been a great day in the Holy Land, and I’ve haven’t even told you most of what happened.

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