What a day! First Zippori, or Tsippori, or Sepphoris, depending on your preference of spelling or language. Zippori is a small community across the valley from Nazareth, a community which was growing fast when Jesus was growing up and possibly or probably where Joseph and Jesus worked building houses. At that time Nazareth was less than 20 extended families and Zippori was booming. Now Zippori is small and Nazareth is tens of thousands.
We, well, some of us, walked down into and through a man-made mostly underground aqueduct which moved water from several springs to the ancient city of Zippori. I bumped my head during the crawling phase. Then we wandered through the ruins of Zippori which revealed the Roman, the Byzantine and the Crusaders era. There was the north-south main street of the Roman city with chariot ruts in the large cobblestones, the fortified tower of the crusaders on the top of the hill and the ruins of the homes of the rich and middle-class Roman citizens. On the adjacent hill, more rows of Israeli homes were being built amid rows of existing red-roofed Israeli homes.
In Nazareth we spent most of our time stuck in traffic in narrow busy streets. They, those who dig up old things, have found the remains of a part of the city of Nazareth that existed in the first century, giving us the hope that where we placed our feet, Jesus may have also placed his feet. I don't find anything holy about these places, but very moving in that my dear friend Jesus lived here and played here. They, the same diggers, have created a living village with samples of persons picking olives, crushing olives and extracting olive, spinning and weaving wool, working in a woodshop and caring for the sheep. While nothing is certain, there's enough evidence that one can convince oneself that Jesus was at these same places.
After a few more moments caught in traffic we walked through a church that is built over the place where Mary, the mother of Jesus, and therefore Jesus, probably lived. Again one can cast doubt on such thoughts, but using reason and evidence, a reasonable person could conclude this to be the place. Several churches have been built here but a wonderful feature of the present church is that it includes ruins of past churches.
On the road again for a short distance and a long time - another hour of heavy traffic - we past through a city named Cana but probably not the same Cana where Jesus turned water into wine, but probably close by. One store advertised Cana Wedding Wine. At the end of this jaunt we had lunch, even though it was now 3:30PM, of fish from the Sea of Galilee, also called St Peter's fish - this is probably the same type of fish he caught in his successful fishing business.
Being that's it was already late in the day we quickly headed to Beth Saida on the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee, but it was closed - winter hours and all that. When one door closes you quickly head back down the road to find an open one, a place called Peter's primacy. As we stood on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, Pastor David read from the end of the Gospel of John where Jesus appears to the fisherman apostles suggesting they cast their nets on the other side of the boats and after their successful catch, cooked their fish and broke bread with them. This is also where Jesus asks three times of Peter, "Do you love me?" and when Peter answers in the positive Jesus says "Feed my lambs." I'm certain that this beach has been redone several times in the last 2000 years, but it could have been where Jesus and Peter stood during that very meaningful exchange.
Back at the hotel, many of us had a light meal just hours after the lunch of fish. Admittedly I had to turn on my "think positive" and "think of all the great moments today" attitude when the bill for $23 per person was presented. Breathe deep and move on. See you tomorrow.