Experiencing the Bible

19 Nov

Scribbling (okay typing) quickly before dinner is not the ideal way to communicate about the first few days of my time in Israel but for now it will have to do. But in a nutshell the best way to describe this experience is WOW – this has surpassed all expectations.

We crossed into Israel after spending a day in Jordan visiting Mt. Nebo and the ancient Greco/Roman city of Jerash. From Mt. Nebo one can look down and see Israel just as Moses did before he died and just as the Israelites did before moving into the Promised Land. Having just written in-depth about Exodus, it was surreal to actually step into the story I have been tracking all quarter in seminary. Jerash is a phenomenal Greco/Roman ruin that leaves one with a sense of how vast and influential the Roman empire was during Biblical times. I had the pleasure of dancing with a Jordanian man in a Greek style amphitheater when a band spontaneously started playing and he and I joined in the joie de vivre of the moment. Priceless. For everything else there is Master Card…. (Or is it Visa?)

But from there we had a trek along the border of Jordan and Israel, plus dealing with customs and luggage. We felt like the tired Israelites clamoring to get into the Promised Land after hot long years in the desert. So by the time we arrived at the Ron Beach hotel in Tiberias, I was simultaneously wired and tired. Between fits of sleep on a mega long plane ride and time changes, I was not what one could call rested or relaxed. Until I jumped into the Sea of Galilee near midnight with a few other people from our tour. There we laughed and hollered and listened to the disco playing a few paces down the shore as I looked up at an inky black sky. It is November yet the weather as delightful as summer so the evening had the feel of a hot Mediterranean night.

However, it wasn’t until I came back to the Sea in the morning that I began to have a real sense of the historical and spiritual significance of being in the Holy Land. The sun was coming up and the sky was a gorgeous pink. I went down to the water thinking I’d have another lovely swim only to discover a wind blowing up and the sea not calm. (I still went in anyway – of course). Yet immediately I remembered the story of Jesus lying asleep in the boat while a storm swelled up and the apostles freaked. And there he rebuked both the sea and the apostles for their lack of faith.

The day from then on was filled with a heightened sense of spirituality, fellowship, wonder and Jesus. Beginning with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee (in which we all danced the Hora to Havah Nigila (sp) to time spent in Capharnaum, the town where Jesus performed many of his healings, the day was filled with awe. So I will end on that note because writing of AWE takes more reflection than I can put to words at the moment. However, we are at this wonderful hotel for three more nights where the internet connection is good – although free time might be spartan. (I want more swims and more dancing and we site see all day).

I will say though that being here makes the both the Old Testament and the Gospels pop. One’s understanding of the text takes on an entirely different dimension, giving scripture an unbelievable texture and profundity. And it was deeply fulfilling to sit at the possible site of the Sermon on the Mount reading Matthew 5 in Greek, which I specially prepared with my tutor for this occasion. It was worth the hard work translating with her this summer. Learning takes on an entirely different meaning. It cuts to the heart. Today won’t be the first day I shed tears nor enjoy wonderful friendships and fellowship. Praise God.

4 Responses to “Experiencing the Bible”

  1. John November 19, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    Beautifully stated!

  2. bub November 19, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    This. Is. Awesome!

  3. Ro November 23, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    Again, I am smiling ear-to-ear following your glorious journey.

  4. Cimbria Peterson December 18, 2010 at 5:33 pm #

    Loved my ride on your back! 😉

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