building the foundation…

making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land is equivalent to attempting to drink from a full blast fire hose.  i doubt any brain can absorb all of the knowledge and experience in one visit.  my approach was to pray that God would reveal to me what he had for me, for this trip…to be open to hear him, see him, feel him, to KNOW him.  i’ve walked with God my whole life.  i had parents who taught me how and a church that gave me structure to learn, and yet still have freedom.  so, my foundation for walking into the Holy Land was solid.

thankfully, the leaders of our trip, and our guide know how to lay a foundation too.  they don’t just throw you in the deep end the first day of the trip and expect you to swim.  they build up slowly….laying a foundation for understanding the time and place in which our Holy scriptures were set.

our first couple of days, we stayed in Tiberias.  the city is 2,000 years old, constructed by Herod Antipas around AD 20.  it sits on the side of mountains and looks down on the Sea of Galilee.  the view is breathtaking.  the awareness of how much of Jesus’ ministry happened around that space was enough to bring me to my knees with tears in my eyes.

we started out the first day learning an understanding of how things worked in biblical times.  we were taken to sites that gave us a context for how the Romans did things, for how the Jews were treated.  we were able to see excavated sites that allowed us to place a visual scale to “towns” in biblical times.  it is so difficult for me, as an american, to understand how small the distance is between sites in Israel.  Israel is about the size of new jersey, so all of that scripture occurred in that small of an area. that changed my comprehension of so many biblical events.

the second day started to build upon my connection with God through my understanding of scripture.  we woke up to the view of the Sea of Galilee.  i breathed in that air and smiled.   that day was full of places that had long lived in my heart.  we started at the site where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount.  one thing scholars have learned is that the place where Jesus gave this sermon is set up on the hill in such a way the the Sea of Galilee provides a perfect sound amphitheater.  how beautiful to know that he knew where to sit so they could all hear him as he taught.

this is where scholars agree that he would have taught...

the Sermon on the Mount is recorded in Matthew 5.  it includes more teaching than just the Beatitudes.  however, that is what we focused on while sitting where they would have sat.

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

as i listened to our pastor teach on these ideas of who can be called blessed, i was very aware of how often i don’t fit into any of those categories.  and, how i long to live there more.  i am thankful that as i continue to mourn throughout my life, God is the source of comfort.  whether it comes supernaturally or through the community of loves with whom he allows me to travel.

so, on this Sunday morning, my heart is remembering what Jesus taught on the side of the Sea of Galilee.  that we are blessed when we are dependent on him…humble before him…longing to know him more.  i consistently need to be humbled before the Lord.  this was a good place to start.

One Response to “building the foundation…”
  1. Kristen says:

    I can’t wait to look through all of your pictures – I would love to frame the sunrise over the sea for our wall. We are reading through the bible this year in its’ entirety which I am sad to say is a first, and I am totally intrigued by the locations and size of these towns as well. I will have to live vicariously through your eyes until we are blessed enough to make our own pilgrimage 🙂

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