(Pictures from today’s travels through Joppa (Jaffa), Caesarea, and Megiddo can be located on the blog menu above. Holy Land Photos plus the additional photo pages listed by location. Enjoy!)
“You must learn, you must let God teach you, that the only way to get rid of your past is to make a future out of it. God will waste nothing.” Phillips Brooks
Normally I would never reiterate anything of Phillips Brooks. My offender often used his words and though, I will not judge the manner or intent in which they were shared, the hurtful memory generally excludes him from my repertoire. Yet when thinking of this day, and myself in this day, I could not seem to shake his words. You must learn, you must let God teach you…. So much of us, our identities are embedded in our history, good and bad; and that history started long before our king. So what kind of future are we, or can we make out of it? Will we let God lead and will we follow with an earnest heart?
We started our day in prayer with Acts 10 setting us up for our journey to Caesarea but first we stopped at St. Peter’s Church in Old Jaffa. It was obvious that my word of the day would be “Wow.” St. Peter’s Church is one of the largest buildings in this port town and sits up top of a hill which can be seen from the Mediterranean Sea. The Altar is a West facing Altar signifying that all are welcome. It has served as a beacon of Christianity in old Jaffa and was built and dedicated to St. Peter who just down the road raised Tabitha, Acts 9:36-43.
St. Peter’s Church is Roman Catholic and belongs to the order of Franciscans. It opened its doors in 1888. It was not the original or only church to be on this site. Jaffa was conquered 22 times. Some conquerers have included Alexander the Great, Richard the Lionheart,Saladin, Louis IX of France and General Edmund Allenby.
For Pictures of Old Jaffa and St. Peter’s Church
We then made our way to Caesarea (National Park) which really struck a cord when it comes to knowing our History along with the culture and community that captured this part of the world. Caesarea is located on the Mediterranean coast between Tel Aviv Haifa. It was a gift from Augustus Caesar to King Herod in about 35 BCE. It took twelve years for Herod to complete a newly constructed city.
A theatre built of stone sat 4000 people. This theatre, though smaller in seating number is still used this day for concerts. It is estimated that 40,000 people lived in the area during the time of Herod’s reign. Herod built a place on these grounds and in the center when you walk from the theatre to the palace is a slab which is dedicated to Pontious Pilot. As you walk further to the end you can see the remnants of mosaic tile inlaid on the palace floor. It’s amazing how such a structure even in its barely parts still remains. Yes, the word is “Wow.” Turn around and face the land and to your left is the remnants of a Hippodrome. Close your eyes and you can hear the crowds roar as the stomping of horses run through. History came alive and add to it Cornelius’s call to Peter in Acts 10 and our scripture speaks more loudly. Picture Peter walking his way from Joppa to Caesarea. We took a car and the distance was great. Imagine Peter walking. What was he thinking and anticipating? What was he feeling the closer he got? Imagine his faith and courage as he approached and as he spoke at Cornelius’s house.
For Pictures of Caesarea
Finally we made our way to Megiddo, the spot where some Christians believe the last great battle of all battles is to take place, Armageddon. We began our visit in the small museum where we watched a film which took us through the history of this location, which is most fascinating. Megiddo is on a main road which extends from Egypt all the way through the region. This main road made it a hotbed for conflict and would see it’s share of wars and battles. In fact Megiddo is the location for the very first battle ever recorded.
During the tribal confederacy Megiddo was a Canaanite city, Judges 1:27 but was most likely conquered by David and taken over by Solomon, 1 Kings 9:15. Destroyed in 925 it was rebuilt to a greater scale. Currently you can walk the path through this location and embody the history in your bones as you examine the remains of a temple, stable, a food storage/dispensary area and even an old tunnel deep within the ground in which water flowed. It was everything an ancient city needed. Geographical height, food storage, a wall, stored grain and water.
Most impressively for me as a woman to add to this most intriguing place, this is where Deborah’s victory song came to earn its poetry, Judges 5.
Though interesting to me on such a historical level, I have to say that in light of today’s political arena I was most disturbed by the marketing of Megiddo with t-shirts and sayings that glorified the radical theories of Armageddon. Humans are fascinated with such in thought and practice that creating such disarray and chaos will lead to a greater end. I tend to own that the chaos we create, enable or standby does nothing more than create more chaos, more harm. I get the biblical expression, and the scripture in which Zealots arrive at their exuberance but I beg to differ on their interpretations and practice, only peace begets peace, sanctity begets sanctity and so forth.
Fore Pictures of Megiddo
My grandmother was born 01/10/01, today is her birthday, and I certainly felt her presence with me as I explored History today, our history, our history as Christians and my History as a Christian in this world. Leaving nothing behind all of it adds to who we are and how we practice and certainly how I practice and how we minister.
I cannot help as I walk these adverse paths of ours through time, but feel deeply compassionate for the turmoil that enslaves humanity, whether in times gone by or now in our current state. How is it that we who inherit such gifts from God, especially the gifts of life, love, mercy, grace and forgiveness can treat each other with great harm and indignation?
There is an awesomeness to Israel and the Holy Land, but itsawesomeness includes its adversity as much as its Love. And I’ll end as I began, “You must learn, you must let God teach you, that the only way to get rid of your past is to make a future out of it. God will waste nothing” and to that I have Faith. God will waste nothing.
Today was about History tomorrow we soar with the Holy Spirit. Peace, Blessings, and much Love from Israel.
A Prayer for World Peace, 1979
Lord, we pray for the power to be gentle; the strength to be forgiving; the patience to be understanding; and the endurance to accept the consequences of holding to what we believe to be right.
May we put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil and the power of love to overcome hatred.
We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe in a world emancipated from violence, a new world where fear shall no longer lead men to commit injustice, nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.
Help us to devote our whole life and thought and energy to the task of making peace, praying always for the inspiration and the power to fulfill the destiny for which we and all men were created