My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.

"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Jesus' Lakeside Ministry on a Bus called Hope contd.

Spot the Rock Hyrax! and of course the litter.
It has to be said that the finest culinary moments for a veggie on this trip have certainly not been at lunch time! One notable meal in Jericho was I swear simply Heinz spaghetti in tomato sauce. No insult intended to Heinz, but I found the meal unpalatable and inedible. By contrast our lunch at the St Peters restaurant was superb. The freshly cooked falafels were fantastic, served with potatoes and some amazing yoghourt based dips. The non-veggies had Tilapia, locally known as St Peter's Fish - offered as a filleted option if the eyes and head were too much for the squeamish! Sadly I note that this fish is in danger of being over-fished.

Again we had the chance to paddle in the lake, and some of us picked up the most beautiful tiny shells from along the tide line while others were fascinated by the large number of Syrian Rock Hyrax, lolloping all over the rocky promontory. Although these creatures look rather like large rabbits, they are actually more closely related to the elephant or manatee. They live in large colonies of up to 50 or so, and are not deemed to be in any danger of dying out any time soon! Meanwhile I was simply horrified by the litter all along the shore, no attempt made at all to keep the shoreline clean. Sadder still is that people generally don't even seem to notice how we are inexorably cluttering up and poisoning our planet with our own waste. I would love to organize litter picking there. Anyone willing to take me on?

Sculpture at Kibbutz Ginosar
Suitably refreshed, fed and watered, our next stop is to the nearby Kibbutz Ginosar and the Yigal Alon Museum, where among many other fascinating exhibits there are the renovated remains of a first century fishing boat, found when the lake was particularly low in 1986. This ancient, 2000 year old boat would have sailed the Sea of Galilee at the time of Jesus; some commentaries say that it may even have been involved in the marine battle during the Great Rebellion of the Jews against the Romans, described by the historian Josephus Flavius. There is also an art gallery here which I enjoy, and some wonderful sculptures all around the main building with the Sea as backdrop, which I enjoy even more. I simply love sculptures. We have time here also for some hot drinks in a splendid café.

From here we catch boats which are built in the traditional style of those used in Jesus' time. Fortunately this afternoon the Sea is still calm, even tranquil. But it can whip up very quickly into huge battering waves, as we had a little taste of yesterday on arrival, and it can just as quickly become calm again. Half way across the stretch of water the engine of the boat is cut out, and we drift for some time in total silence, while we listen to the story in Matthew 8: 23-27, of the calming of the storm by Jesus and reflect on another story in Matt. 14: 22-32 of Peter's attempts to walk on the water towards Jesus. This place is real, the events it recalls are real, and it is moving to reflect more on these things. Jesus walked and sailed where we have walked and sailed today. He saw the same views, the stunning predawn red glow in the sky across the water, heard the same sounds of birds that we heard with the noisy dawn chorus. Jesus knew intimately what we are now seeing and hearing.
mouthwatering supper display!

Jesus covered such a small area in his ministry, but as stones thrown into a pond create ripples that can have far reaching effects, so his ministry has spread from those first stones cast. We saw in Capernaum the "house church" in the ruins and we reflected there on other ways of "doing church", then as now. In many different ways we continue to create our own Ripples of Hope for this world.

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