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The Home of Jesus

I began writing from the van yesterday morning as we began our day making our way from Tiberias to Nazareth where we met with the Sisters of Nazareth. This is a journey away from tourism and straight to an active archeological site in which we had the privilege to be invited. I am so very grateful to be among my classmates and could not wait to get the convent. It was our chance to step away from the commercialism that poured forth on the Mount of Beatitudes and a real inner glimpse to a First century discovery so tightly connected to Christ, our journey and call. I realize the magnitude of this gift. The magnitude of being ever present with Christ in such sacred, awestruck yet humble space. By humble I mean the way in which the sisters hold for and care for the sanctity of this holy ground and Christ in it. I only pray that I am able to share the grace of God given to me through his love and with my presence here, especially knowing how blessed I am to have this rare glimpse. Yes, my whole journey here has been a special gift, but this will live within me. Sister described that when the stone was removed, uncovering the family tomb, a smell of perfume filled the air. I can imagine the spirit of God being released and given to the world.

There is much to sit in silence with.

The video which I have linked for you here will you give you the background of my excitement and awe, and hopefully trigger a sense of wonder for you. Link: The Home of Jesus of Nazareth

Photos of our visit may be found here: https://thoughtsprayersandart.com/sisters-of-nazareth-convent-jesus-boyhood-home-01-12-2019/

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Holy Land 01/11/2018: Magadala, Capernaum and more…

Last night we stayed in Tiberias. We will be here another two nights before moving onward. I am having some internet connection issues here so I have been trying to blog from our van off of my phone. Yes, believe it or not we have good WiFi on the van, but we were so busy today I had little chance to do so. On the van, that is where I get the bulk of my pictures uploaded. You can see them on the separate menu under Holy Land Photos. Because of the technical issues until we move on to another hotel, I cannot post many pics or links on the reflective post in the evening. (This One) I will continue to share as often as I can.

Today was extraordinarily busy and fruitful with every step. We visited Magdala, Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, the Church of the Loves and Fishes, stood in the place of Peter’s confession, put our hands in the Sea of Galilee and sailed across the sea.  While I am in awe of all that remains of our history and the spirit that ascends from the rubble speaking truth to to my soul, I am conflicted by the commercialized tourism of all that is sacred. More than once today and especially on the Mount of the Beatitudes, I imagined Jesus flipping tables in the market place. The hustle, push, amusement park like frenzy of large tour groups on a mission seeking God through the next best T-shirt, nick knack, and thing-a-ma-jig, pushed me more closely to scripture and prayer as we navigated our way from Magadala to Capernaum and the Sea of Gaililee.

Magadala the said to be home of Mary Magadeline is still an active excavation site and is on the road Jesus traveled when going from Nazareth to Capernaum. In the rubble you can see the remnants of a synagogue, 1st Century mosaics, micvahs, and housing. We imagined that Jesus would use his own frame of reference when teaching or speaking in parables. For instance as we walked on an old 1st century path, we retold the story of the mustard seed with all the terrain around us as reference. The stories of Jesus come alive with every turn. Here too was also a modern day chapel that was built to celebrate service at the Sea over looking the water. Take a look at the pics.

For Pictures of Magadala : Click https://thoughtsprayersandart.com/holy-land-photos/magdala-2018/

 

The rest of the day walked us through scripture. Together we read the Beatitudes in a quiet spot on the Mount of the Beatitudes where we imagined Jesus speaking with the people who gathered around him. We read and prayed at the Church of the Loaves and Fishes, Mark 6:30-44 and John 21 which led us right through to Peter’s confession. Then we visited where Peter lived. Looked at the floors of the home and read from Luke, imagining if we dropped a talent or a coin on the rocky home ground in the dark. Feeling the earth, seeing the terrain, culture and proximaty of the water, is giving us a new understanding of our scripture.

The Sea of Galilee is simply amazing in every aspect. From the point of Mother Nature, it’s beautiful, from the point of soul, the Holy Spirit is present, alive and life giving. We really enjoyed this time together on the boat, meditating on the words of Christ and the stories shared among this body of water. It is life giving.

 

 

 

 

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Holy Land 2018: Solidifying Scripture

(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

 

 

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Holy Land 2018: We have arrived!

“Let us come alive to the Splendor that is all around us, and see the beauty in ordinary things.” Thomas Merton

After a wild trip through JFK airport, a one hour delay and a 10 hour flight squished like sardines with some really awesome food, we arrived at the Leonardo Plaza in Netanya. We left the States in the dark and arrived here in Israel in the dark which is kinda weird but considering the lack of sleep I had, I think it’s going to work out just right. We entered our hotel shortly before nine pm, set our bags aside, grabbed a bite to eat, and set out for a short exploratory walk to stretch our legs.

All ready we are in awe of the Mediterranean Sea in which we are in walking distance to. The sand is as soft as pillows of powder beneath our feet. Unlike the ocean in which we are a custom, the sea smells different. I’m not really sure how, just different. Michael said, like pepper, maybe. Maybe that’s it, or maybe it’s just fresher as it fills the explorers, the seekers in us with new life. We walked down to touch the sea. Even in the dark its vast presence and carried history played the voices of hope, courage and mission from long ago. With every lap, lap, lap, we took a moment to recognize how Paul must have felt at that given moment before setting out for Greece. It’s those “spirit moments” even in the midst of joking seminarians and one Academic Dean, that just get at you and invade your being.

Netanya is a beautiful place. I sure can see myself spending some time here as a seaside getaway. It has that vibe with a mix of restaurants, amphitheater, even what appeared to be a flea market on the sand along the water. It’s alive. Being near the water has a way of doing that.

Short, brief update as we are ready to retire and have a truly early start. I close my eyes with a great sense of peace and an excited anticipation for our real first full day tomorrow. We will visit Joppa, Caesarea, Megiddo and make our way over to Tiberius for the night. I’m sure tomorrow I will have some really great pics to share.

Somehow we traveled through time and are about to embark on an adventure of a life time, funny how it feels like I’ve been here before.

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the pathway to all truth and the guide of our lives. It was you who led Joseph safely to Egypt and the Israelites through the Red Sea. You led Moses to Mount Sinai and all his people to the Promised Land. You led Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, to Egypt, to Nazareth. It was you yourself who traveled the side of Cleopas and his companion to Emmaus. Today, we pray you, Lord, lead us safely on this journey that lies before us. Save us from all enemies, visible, and invisible, and bring us safely to our destination: for you are our way, our truth, and our life, and to you we give glory and worship, now and ever and to the ages. AMEN – Adapted from St. John Garnetsi, the Armenian (1180-1245)

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Preparing to go!

Excitement is building as we scurry around campus with last minute details, printing boarding passes, downloading good music, books and movies for our plane ride ahead. Each of us have our own desires and expectations as we embark on this adventure to the Holy Land and we are bringing “all” of ourselves along.

Open to the Holy Spirit and where she moves, I feel the complexities of all that I am longing to know my God, my Christ more intimately; desiring also to see through our Mother’s eyes and know the sufferings and joy of her heart along the way. Here I am, an insignificant soul a midst the vastness of the world’s possibilities. I am a spirit, a mother, a wife, a seminarian, a servant of our most high God marked by experience, branded by genetics open to the love and will of our Savior. In this moment I feel so small yet so deeply loved and full of appreciation for all those who have made this journey for me, for us, possible. To all of you I have the responsibility to fulfill my promise and study, and learn and grow.

The further I study the theology of trauma the more I recognize that our identity as a spiritual people, as a Christian people, lay at the center of our pastoral application to those who suffer, to those who seek, to all of those in need. So is there really any better way to deepen my knowledge, faith and practice than to go back to our roots and touch the earth that our Lord once felt on the bareness of his skin. It would seem to me that there is no better way to come to my identity in Christ more thouroghly than on this journey.

Yesterday, I heard testimony to the transformation that has worked it’s way through me and still I hear in those around me, how this trip will further transform my very being. Even the woman at the Target cash register expressed her excitement for me with, “Oh how you will be transformed.” I didn’t know her, but she doesn’t stand alone. Her sentiments were repeated a number of times to me and oh, how I am embracing each moment.

Many of you have asked for me to keep this journal and post pics. I carry each of you in my heart and in my prayers. I pray you will take a moment from time to time and check in as I post pics, thoughts and daily adventures from us all.

Blessings and Love to each and everyone.

Allison