Friday, March 16, 2018

Bach, Bananas and Bible Theory

It’s cloudy today, and last night’s sleep was punctuated by dreams of droplets of olive oil and honey. As much as it sounds like a Bible revelation, it’s more of a mix of the sights and sounds I experienced witnessed yesterday.

As we make our way south, we can see Lebanon to our right. We drop to 600 feet below sea level to the ‘Evangelical Triangle’. Our team leader continues the study of the Lord’s Prayer. ‘Forgive us our trespasses’. We must also forgive others which is much harder, and sometimes, it must be done daily. Yup. That's me.

We learn that Galilee is mentioned in the Old Testament. Isaiah said ‘the Gentiles of the Galilee saw a great light.’ As I contemplate the significance of the prophesy, we pass Lake Hula, a mere marsh now, with only 2% of its former self remaining for pelican and other migratory birds. This busy highway we’re on was once the route that Jesus took from that awful place of Pan down to the Galilee. We approach Capernaum, where Jesus raised the little girl to life. “Talitha cumi” he said to here. “Little girl, arise.” Tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, comes from that word, talitha, meaning pure. 

Our guide with a prayer shawl explaining Talitha Cumi

But there is more to this miraculous story. The little girl’s father asks Jesus to come, and yet, the story diverts from that to a woman who secretly touches Jesus’ hem. The woman was bleeding and considered unclean. Jesus heals her and then the narrative returns to the little girl. We go from the pure to the impure, and back to the pure
On one of Jesus’ trips, He went from a place where God was worshiped, to the temple of Pan, where there was so much impurity, back to a place where God was worshiped, Capernaum. From the pure to the impure, to the pure. So much food for thought. Jesus wasn't afraid to get His hands dirty.

The remains of a synagogue in Capernaum. Note the dark basalt rock.

We are told about the friends who lowered a crippled man through the roof of a house so he may see Jesus, and understand how it could be done. Basalt walls, of which houses were made, being dark in colour, would cook people in the summer, so the roofs were straw to allow the heat to dissipate. Removing that roof as the friends did would cause dust and debris to fall on those sitting up front in the house, listening to Jesus preach. They would have been annoyed that their time listening to Jesus was interrupted so. 
Are we like those people, who want the blessings and resent the interlopers who seem to get it, instead? Or are we the interlopers, we Gentiles? Shouldn’t we make room for those who really need to hear the Gospel? Is our guide asking that we allow him to come and learn what we know of Christ? And yet, our guide has so much knowledge of Christ. Does it also exist in his heart? I ponder Yossi’s spoken and unspoken questions, not realizing now the situation he's describing would soon arise literally when we visit the museum in Jerusalem later on, so stay with me.

A straw roof. Can you imagine the dust raining down as the roof is being removed?

We pass the place of the Sermon on the Mount, where we see the remains of some seats, fenced in beside the road. What I learn now is that the water level here at the Sea of Galilee was once much higher and Jesus might have sat in a boat and used the natural amplification qualities of the water to help project his voice. 
We learn when He fed the multitude, the people sat on the grass. Yossi tells us that this is the only place in Israel where grass grows naturally, thanks to seven springs. 
Nowadays, it’s a German church and we slip inside, past the pools that hold brightly coloured koi. 
Inside, Yossi takes out his flute and plays Bach, (the same tune as he played at Solomon’s Pillars) allowable in a German church where silence and meditation is the rule. Once more, with amazing acoustics, the classical music fills us. Music, Yossi says, is the international language. Around us, many other tour groups stop to listen to the music, and we all applaud after. He tells me after that the word ‘music’ comes from the same root as ‘mosaic’, that is, Muses, the goddess who inspired musicians, poets and artists. 

Yossi playing Bach

It’s warmer here by the edge of the water, because we're below sea level. They grow bananas under special canopies, and great swathes of white fill the hillside. 

Bananas growing under canopies. Israel is not hot enough.

We visit The Jesus Boat, a first century boat now on display, and learn that it was probably built by someone wealthy. 

Jesus Boat, photo copyright Jesus Boat Foundation.

While it could have been one that Jesus sailed in, it could also have been used to transport soldiers. Regardless, it had been scuttled in the mud and left until a drought revealed it, 2000 years later.
Our time here is over. We now get to experience our own trip upon The Sea of Galilee!

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