What we do 

Sunrise on Galilee

The Rector Writes...
 

I recently led a group of folk on a tour of the Holy Land. During our ten days we visited Christian sites like the Sea of Galilee (pictured above), Bethlehem, Nazareth, Caesarea Philippi and Jerusalem, Old Testament sites such as Dan (where a city gate from the time of Abraham has been found and preserved), Jericho and Megiddo (where there is a Canaanite altar), as well as other important sites from the time of Jesus such as Herod’s great building projects at Herodium. Masada and Caesarea Maritima on the coast. Then there were the fun-times… floating in the Dead Sea. There were times when we had places to ourselves, and other times when we fought our way through crowds of thousands representing many different nationalities.
 
The danger of the Holy Land experience is that “tourists” and even “pilgrims” treat it like a theme park of the same ilk as “Holy Land USA” which opened in 1955 and closed in 1984 and which Wikipedia describes as “an 18-acre theme park in Waterbury, Connecticut, inspired by selected passages from the Bible. It consists of a chapel, stations of the cross, and replicas of catacombs and Israelite villages constructed from cinder blocks, bathtubs, and other discards”.

Warm greetings

Warm greetings! Fr Nael, the Arab priest at the Anglican Church in Nazareth, with the Revd Kevin Ashby.

 
In truth, we were visiting modern-day Israel and the West Bank, not some idyllic Disney-type theme park, and it was good and important to meet with real people who are living in what is a land just as divided as it was in the time of Jesus. People such as…
 
Marla, our guide, an Israeli, who was honest and open about her politics and the issues facing her country. Mary, a Christian Arab, working in the Bethlehem Rehabilitation Centre hospital, whose work is hampered by the so-called “Peace Wall”, the security wall which surrounds the town. Fr Nael, the Arab priest at the Anglican Church in Nazareth and an Israeli, wrestling with the issue of feeling like a second-class citizen… and, due to recent legislation, actually being a second-class citizen.
 
Real people living in a real country with real tensions. In this next month of Remembrance let’s not forget each of them and many others who are seeking to work together for peace in the Holy Land.

*To view pictures taken during the Revd Ashby's tour of the Holy Land click here.
 
kevin for rector writes  The Revd Kevin Ashby

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