I Still Do
This morning we learned that Nazareth has the largest basilica in the region, the Church of the Annunciation. This magnificent church building is run by the Franciscans and is built over what ancient tradition holds to be the house-cave of Mary. It is adorned with artistic renderings of Mary from around the world–each work of art containing its own cultural perspective and influence.
Our journeys next took us to Cana, where church traditions tell us Jesus performed the sign of turning water into wine. A garden chapel at the church was the beautiful setting of our renewal of wedding vows ceremony. Seven couples reaffirmed their marriage covenant, including a couple who very recently celebrated their fiftieth!
We drove through the eastern part of the Jezreel Valley past Mt. Tabor and Mt. Gilboa, out of the Jezreel, and into the Jordan Valley. The terrain is fascinating. We passed along the Jordan Valley with the hill country of Samaria on one side of us and the heights of Gilead on the other.
We crossed into the Judean wilderness and arrived at the baptismal site. This is near where Jesus was baptized by John, and we were able to reflect on the meaning of baptism there, as well as reaffirm our own baptismal vows. We put our feet in the Jordan (or waded in) and took some time individually to pray, to remember God’s grace in our baptisms, and to be thankful.
After a late lunch, we climbed the mound of ancient Jericho, tel es-Sultan. This is a fascinating site archaeologically, and we saw the results of excavations as old as almost 100 years and as recent as last summer.
On the way to the hotel in Jericho, we stopped to see an old sycamore tree that local legend claims is the tree Zacchaeus climbed in order to see Jesus above the crowds (!). It was good to see an example of the sycamore of this area, and, yes, we even sang the Zacchaeus song. We’ll let the legend rest.
This evening after dinner, we’ll talk a little more about Jericho and have a “wedding reception” for those that renewed their vows today.