I really did. Today we left the Sea of Galilee behind and traveled back to Nazareth to attend Christ Church. As I was entering the church door a woman was also walking in, recognized the purple shirt and collar and introduced herself, “Hi, I am Mary.” She asked where we were from. When I told her I was from Seattle, her eyes lit up and she said, “I lived in Tukwila for 30 years, worked at the UW in Research and came back here 10 years ago.” It is a small world and an even smaller church we are all in.
Mary of Nazareth. I don’t know who the guy is. The service at Christ Church was just beautiful. The priest, the Rev. Nael Abu Rahmoun has just been here for about a year and I met him on my last visit two years ago. He preached and celebrated in Arabic and English. They were a most welcoming crowd and were elated that we more than doubled their congregation. If you did not know it, Christians in the Holy Land are dwindling fast, a sad state of affairs, and as I shared with them one we are dealing with as well, but here, it is especially critical.
One of the most amazing parts of this service was the organist, tucked off to the side in a transcept, I had a perfect view of her through the service. She played with a remarkable charisma, and did not read a note of music. Afterwards I greeted her and told her how much it meant to me to not only hear her but watch her and what a blessing she was to me that day. She smiled and seemed so embarrassed but said, “I believe Music brings perfection and unity to us in a world that is so broken.” It was my greatest gift in a day packed with them.
We had a great lunch right around the corner from the Church and then loaded the bus to head for the West Bank, going through the checkpoint and moving along the Jordan River, heading toward the celebrated location of Jesus Baptism in the Jordan. It was Orthodox Epiphany which is the one day they have access to the site and they were there in joyful force! It made it a special day to be there for us too. You will note in the videos and pictures below the armed guard always present. This is a border, that is the country of Jordan just across the River, just 15 feet of muddy water across.
We left the Jordan and traveled in for our first views of Jerusalem on this trip, driving through it during rush hour! Into the walled city of Bethlehem. It is only 8 miles from Jerusalem but it might as well be another planet. That is where we are tonight, and will be tomorrow night too. I will share other adventures and blessings with you then. The Pilgrims are sharing some deep experiences each evening and they appear to be having a very rich time.
There are two other pilgrims blogging right now.
The Rev. Alissa Newton http://www.alissabethnewton.com
The Rev. Jonathan Myers http://www.jonathanmyers.net