This morning our lecture did not start until 9am so the hotel requested that our group come to breakfast a bit later to allow the other guests that needed to leave earlier to have breakfast first. OF course none of us objected so we got to sleep in a bit later today. I woke up around 7am and proceeded to read my bible outside on the balcony overlooking Nazareth. Just a few weeks before we left for the trip I decided to use my daily times in the Bible to read only scriptures that were related to Jesus. I found a reading plan in my Logos Bible program and have been following it. I have been amazed at how much my reading of scripture has changed in the last week. For example, this morning I read John 4:3 “he left Judea and set out once more for Galilee.” That once simple verse that would have only been words a week ago now jumps off the page. I was in Galilee just yesterday. I remember the layout of the towns along the Sea of Galilee. I can still feel the breeze, and smell the richness that is in the fresh air coming off the lake. My mind instantly recalled watching the fish swim in the clear water. It is really amazing how seeing this stuff first hand brings ordinary verses like John 4:3 to life. There is a new richness to my time in the New Testament for sure.

After breakfast we walked through the streets of Nazareth and arrived at NETS (The Seminary). We waited a few minutes for our presenter Brent Nealey and another group of students to arrive. After the introductions Brent presented a wonderful lecture based on Acts 10-11 about Peter and Cornelius. His lecture was much more than just an exploration through the biblical text. He masterful tied in the biblical narrative with the state of affairs in Israel today. Brent has lived in Israel for almost twenty years and really seems to have a great understanding of what has gone on here in this country throughout its history. Like our previous presenter on Monday Brent acknowledges that the road to peace is a difficult one, however he believes that with God’s help this region can be transformed.

After class we went back to the hotel and had lunch together as a group. Following lunch we had the afternoon to do whatever we wanted. I choose to explore on my own this afternoon. I went back to the church that sits over Mary’s well, and took a short video because on Monday I only took pictures. I then went back to the Catholic Church of the Annunciation and took some video there as well. I also took some extra time to look closer at the numerous mosaics that are on the outside wall. Each is from a different country and is a portrayal of Mary. It is interesting to see how different artists from different cultures picture her.

mosaics

mosaics

mosaics

mosaics

mosaics

mosaics

After that I went back to the Mary of Nazareth International Center. We visited here on Monday but I just felt like there was more of a story in the ruins at this place. A very nice guy came out and talked to me for a while. He told me several new interesting facts. He said that Nazareth during the time Jesus lived here would have had about fifty houses. He also explained the importance of the cisterns, and food cave that are apart of the ruins there at the center. Finally he pointed out a wall that to me looks like a city wall. He said that archeologist have confirmed that this wall was built 9,000 years before Christ was born. I think he may have been trying to say 900, but at any rate this is new information I want to explore. Until today I had thought that Nazareth as a community was only founded about 100 years before the birth of Jesus but there maybe more history here than was previously known.

Next I felt the need to just sit in some peace and quiet so I went back to the synagogue where it is believed Jesus read from the Torah. We visited this place as a group on Monday but I felt drawn to spend sometime there by myself today. I sat in the stillness and prayed for the majority of my time. Then I spent the last ten minutes looking at the stones and structure of the synagogue. I am really amazed at how old and how amazing these buildings are.

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DSCN0261

From here I headed back to the hotel. I stopped for some ice cream, and had a good visit with a local. He said he had lived here his entire life and enjoyed getting to meet people like myself from all over the world. His English was good; he mostly had questions about Texas so I answered as many as I could.

After dropping my stuff at the hotel it was time to depart once again for NETS. We had a BBQ there tonight and the food was great. I enjoyed getting to visit with everyone. I forgot to mention that my friend Levi who works at Navaho in San Antonio was a part of the other group that joined us for the lecture this morning and again for the BBQ tonight. Levi and I knew we would be in Israel at the same time but I would have never imagined that our paths would have intersected. Today was a good day. Tomorrow we have a full day of travel outside of Nazareth there should be lots of new pictures and a long report after that trip.

This is our group at NETS as we gathered around for desert tonight. Full house great fellowship!

This is our group at NETS as we gathered around for desert tonight. Full house great fellowship!

Pork chops for dinner in the Holy Land.

Pork chops for dinner in the Holy Land.