Monday, May 04, 2020
Visiting Israel Revisited
Map of 1st C Israel -- Map Porn
Yesterday, on Good Shepherd Sunday, I reminisced a bit about my first trip to Israel more than 30 years ago.. It was the first of three visits to the birthplace of Jesus within a decade and I assumed that I would return as time went on. This didn't happen because of changes to where we lived and turmoil in the region. The third trip was altered by such circumstances and a fourth cancelled.
The great benefit of those trips was bringing into a sense of reality the stories of the bible as happening in historical settings with real people rather than a sort of holy theme park and spiritual fairy tale quality. To stand on the top of Mount Carmel where the prophet Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal and to walk up recently excavated steps leading to the temple mount in Jerusalem which Jesus undoubtedly used were powerful moments.
Often, though, it wasn't "x marks the spot" stops. Climbing a hillside in Galilee to an old Roman fortress with a guide when others passed on the opportunity during some free time, up early by the Lake of Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), looking at a newly discovered, nearly intact, fishing boat from the 1st century on a kibbutz were all enriching experiences. My plan was to return with an excursion into the Sinai Wilderness in order to climb Jabal Mousa (Mount Sinai), long associated with Moses and the Ten Commandments, will never come to fruition.
Jabal Mousa (Mount Sinai)
Travelling through Israel also deepened my appreciation of the other "People of the Book" religions, Judaism and Islam. A guide on one of the trips was a woman of my age with two young daughters comparable in age to two of our kids. She was also a writer and we had stimulating chats about the intersection of Judaism and Christianity, as well as her progressive outlook on her Muslim neighbours despite the general suspicions and enmity which were prevalent while we were there.
Every once in a while my "bible nerd" sensibilities are awakened, and this past week I saw a map of First Century Palestine which intrigued me -- from a source called Map Porn! Take a careful look and you'll see place names which may be familiar going back to your Sunday School days. We can certainly pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the region as suspicion and conflict continues. Who knows when tourism will resume in Israel and surrounding countries.
Have you visited Israel? Do you wish you had, if not?
Sea of Galilee from Mount of Beatitudes
Were you aware of the Dawn Chorus of birds yesterday? My Groundling blog