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Now Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee…

A memorable trip of a lifetime. The Maranatha Tour of Israel and the West Bank, 8th October to 17th October, 2018.

Luton to Tel Aviv with EL AL Israel Airlines. Welcoming, comfortable hotels in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Galilee. The stunning desert views, bustling towns with their white flat roofed buildings. Large modern Israeli coach skilfully driven. Archaeological sites, nature reserves, and beautiful churches. Travel by cable car (pictured above) and boat. The history, the geography, the politics, the society, the people. Marla, our knowledgeable, map laden guide. The chance to float on the Dead Sea, swim in The Caesar Hotel pool and ride a camel. A friendly group of twenty five travellers, usually away by 8am.

All this, but there was so much more to experience. For this is the Holy Land and the Revd Kevin Ashby led the trip. At significant locations Kevin read relevant passages from the Bible. Relating where we were to Biblical references. We prayed. To sing great hymns in such locations is so moving.

Here are a few of my memories:

We visited the Bethlehem Rehabilitation Centre. We were greeted by manager Mary. She outlined the tremendous work they do at the centre. It provides medical and rehabilitation services to people all over the Palestinian area. The hospital is open to all. She described the problem of being near to the growing defence wall.

The Shepherds Fields are a pastoral region of Bethlehem where the angels are said to have announced the birth of Christ. Where we sat looking down on the fields had a very special atmosphere. We sang and later could hear a gospel group sing. Beautiful.

Where we sat we had a tremendous view of Jerusalem, dominated in the distance by the Muslim Dome of the Rock. As Kevin spoke of Jesus arriving in Jerusalem on a donkey, a traditionally dressed man came by leading a donkey. ‘Photo anyone?’

We walked literally around part of the Garden of Gethsemane, with its ancient knarled olive trees. To think Jesus spent his last hours here before being arrested.

At the Western Wall we witnessed Jewish prayers and traditions. It is the most sacred structure of the Jewish people. On a hill there was a stone pillar with a cross on it. From there we had a fine view of St George’s Monastery, perched into the rocks. This was very special. Never mind an enterprising man was trying to sell necklaces on the edge of the cliff. Kevin read. We sang. We prayed. Very special.

A visit to the Garden Tomb was an emotional experience. Peter, a partially sighted guide, was a Christian inspiration. There was a first century rolling-stone tomb. This could be the burial place of Jesus. The communion service that followed, in a small room, was special to all of us.

On the banks of the River Jordan, at Bethany, people were being baptised, like John baptised people there all those years ago. Water was taken from the River Jordan and put in a small dish. We dipped a finger into it and did the sign of the cross on our foreheads. Kevin read. We prayed. We sang.
 
After our visit to the Church of the Beatitudes, near to where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount we walked down a path where Jesus could have walked. We stopped near to where someone had carved a face of Jesus in the rock.

The reconstructed ‘Nazareth Village’ brilliantly presented what the rural village might have looked like when Jesus was a boy.

While in Nazareth we visited the Anglican Christ Church. The vicar Fr Nael described himself as a Palestinian, a Muslim, a Christian and an Israeli, because he was an Israeli citizen. If only many more people had his outlook in this divided land.

The unforgettable communion service on a wooden boat, said to be of the kind the disciples used on the Sea of Galilee. As dusk fell we arrived back at the Tiberias lakeside promenade. Our time in the Holy Land was soon to end.

On our way to Tel Aviv the next day we stopped by the Mediterranean Sea. On the modern stage in the grounds of a Roman amphitheatre our travel group sang their final song. That was emotional.

Words and pictures by Tony Rous
 

*To view pictures sent through by the Revd Ashby during the tour of the Holy Land click here.


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On the modern stage in the grounds of a Roman amphitheatre the travel group sang their final song.

Caesaria Philippi on the coast
Holy Land In Pictures 
These are the last pictures from the trip to the Holy Land which has been led by Melton Mowbray Team Parish Rector, the Revd Kevin Ashby. More ...
Spectacular Crusader hall in A
Holy Land In Pictures 
Here are some more pictures which have just been sent through from the trip to the Holy Land which is being led by Melton Mowbray Team Parish Rector, the Revd Kevin Ashby. More ...
Cana in Galilee church Jesus f
Holy Land In Pictures 
Here are some more pictures which have just been sent through from the trip to the Holy Land which is being led by Melton Mowbray Team Parish Rector, the Revd Kevin Ashby. More ...
Israeli defences on the volcan
Holy Land in pictures 
Here are some more pictures which have just been sent through from the trip to the Holy Land which is being led by Melton Mowbray Team Parish Rector, the Revd Kevin Ashby. More ...
Sunrise on Galilee
Holy Land in pictures
Here are some more pictures which have just been sent through from the trip to the Holy Land which is being led by Melton Mowbray Team Parish Rector, the Revd Kevin Ashby. More ...
 Jesus boats  on  the Sea of G
Holy Land in pictures
Here are some more pictures which have just been sent through from the trip to the Holy Land which is being led by Melton Mowbray Team Parish Rector, the Revd Kevin Ashby. More ...
John  Tim on a camel at Sea Le
Holy Land Trip in pictures
Here are some more pictures which have just been sent through from the trip to the Holy Land which is being led by Melton Mowbray Team Parish Rector, the Revd Kevin Ashby. More ...
The group smiling on the top o
Holy Land Tour
Melton Mowbray Team Parish Rector, the Revd Kevin Ashby, is now leading a 10 day tour of the Holy Land. These are some of the pictures he has just sent through. More ...