Go to Galilee, there you will find me.

Mosaic of Peace, Day 9

The group stops to dip their feet in the Sea of Galilee.

Today we took a break from the presentations and classroom time to walk where Jesus walked, around the Sea of Galilee. But even so, we were never far from the issues to which we have been exposed all week.

We toured all of the usual spots: the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves & Fishes, the Church of St Peter’s Primacy, the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation (built over Mary’s Well).

It it hard to place certain events of Jesus’ life in their precise locations, but much of his ministry was up in the Galilee.

At each of these beautiful places, we read scripture related to the moment being commemorated. Obviously, we don’t really know where Jesus preached the Beatitudes or multiplied the loaves and fishes. What we do know is that Jesus preached around the Sea of Galilee, and that all of these things would have taken place in the area. We know that Jesus walked the same shores and hills that we walked yesterday.

So—did we feel Jesus in these places? Which ones? Everyone has their own personal answers.

One person told me she was most moved by the statue of Jesus at Capernaum. Another said it was in the garden next to the Church of the Beatitudes. Many of us were struck by the contrast of noise and silence, crowds and solitude.

While we were worshipping in the Garden on the Mount of the Beatitudes, we heard our own voices raised in song and prayer…and when we were quiet, we could hear the many pilgrims from all over the world worshipping in different languages. In each place, we shared our experience with many pilgrims from many different places.

And then there was the silence. Many of us found it profoundly spiritual when were on a boat on the Sea of Galilee and the captain cut the engine. For a time there was extreme silence, broken by birds and fish jumping (even though we didn’t catch any!) Some felt Jesus then.

The Sea of Galilee in calm weather. 
It’s hard to imagine the storm!

Finally, I asked another of my fellow pilgrims where he had found his spiritual moment. He said it was in the spot where we renewed our baptismal covenant—on the River Jordan, where Jesus was baptized. But it wasn’t that act, or even the remarkable moment when a white dove appeared, as if on cue. It was when, walking away, he put his bible and prayer book back into his backpack. He said, “Jesus is in my backpack.” This pilgrim has made many mission trips and has carried these books in that backpack for all of them. So that is where Jesus was, for him.

 

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What a contrast between the peacefulness of the Galilee and the war just steps away.
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For me, it is being at the Sea of Galilee and looking back up the valley that leads to Nazareth. I can imagine Jesus being told to leave his home town, walking down that valley from Nazareth, and coming to the town of Magdala. Indeed, we know his footsteps were there.

But as I said at the beginning, we couldn’t escape the issues that surround this beautiful place. When we drove to lunch on the far side of the lake, we took the road that is just below the Golan Heights…and just last night, Iran fired missiles at the Heights Some of our group heard Israeli jets overhead at the hotel, likely responding to the attack.

What a contrast between the peacefulness of the Galilee and the war just steps away.

I pray for peace, for a solution for our Palestinian and Israeli brothers and sisters, and for wise decisions. We have witnessed much here in the land of Jesus, and we will have much to do when we get home to tell these stories.

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The Mosaic of Peace trip is part of the ministry of the Presbyterian Peace Program. It brings members and partners of the PC(USA) from a variety of backgrounds to Israel-Palestine in order to “experience this remarkable and troubled region, encounter its diverse people, explore its rich history and complex current situation, and engage with those who seek its peace.”

This blog entry was contributed by Madeleine Ludlow, as part of our effort to bring back and share the stories of Mosaic of Peace 2018. Today’s photos were provided by Henry Koenig Stone. The full blog is co-hosted by Unbound and by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.