I am helping to lead a 10-day Jewish-Christian study trip to Israel. We left the U.S. on Sunday. My plan is to post entries about our trip here as I have the opportunity, but that may not be possible daily.
Even on days when I'm unable to post, however, I'll be giving you some links to learn about the places in Israel that are on our itinerary.
Today, after pausing with all of Israel at 10 a.m. for Holocaust Remembrance Day, we'll stop at the Banias, the source of the Jordan River. Then our group is to travel up to the Golan Heights, passing old Syrian bunkers along the way.
Then we'll take in the view of neighboring Syria from atop Har Bental.
Then we're scheduled to visit the baptismal site at the Jordan River.
* * *
CAESAREA -- Before leaving Tel Aviv, we spent a moving hour-plus at what used to be a home but then became an art museum and finally became Independence Hall when, on May 14, 1948, Israel, led by David Ben Gurion, declared the existence of a Jewish state that would be known as Israel.
The man who gave the presentation was obviously a proud Israeli and committed to the safety and continued existence of this amazing country, but he also was honest about the terrible history that has pitted Arab against Jew here for so long. Both people, he said, believe this is their land, "and neither is 100 percent wrong."
We then moved north to the Galilee, where we visited Caesaerea, Capernaum and Nazareth, the latter being the tiny village that Jesus called home (maybe 400 people tops back then) but today a busy tourist metropolis full of various sites related to the local boy made good.
I'll have more to say later in columns and blog postings about Nazareth as well as Cana, the site of Jesus' first miracle (water into wine at a wedding), where several of us couples on this trip renewed our wedding vows with the help of Episcopal priest Gar Demo.
Eventually we moved to a hotel on a kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee before crashing for the night.
As I type this I'm in the lobby of that hotel listening to another man across the way Skyping with his wife back home (he's impossible not to overhear) and I just heard him say something that I think is true for most of the Christians in our group -- which is that although it's been good to see the places where Jesus lived and did ministry, "he's no more real here than he is wherever we are."
Well said for a Skyper.
The photo here shows the hall in Tel Aviv where Israel declared its existence 64 years ago next month.
* * *
P.S.: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at Meyer and Wornall in Kansas City will host the Southwest Early College Campus spring concert in its nave on Wednesday, April 25, at 6:30 p.m. The church's Chancel Choir will join its voices with the Southwest Choir on the final portion of the program. Admission is free.