My name is Emily Bauman from Elmira Mennonite Church. I’m currently working as a sculpting assistant to Timothy Schmalz which makes this day extra cool for me.
Today we went to the Sea of Galilee and toured a boat museum and various religious sights built over places where Jesus himself walked, resided, and taught. Our first stop was a museum where they showed the preserved remains of a 2000 year old boat that was discovered by two brothers when the Sea of Galilee was lower in 1986 due to a drought. It was very cool seeing what style of boat Jesus and his disciples might have travelled with. We got the amazing opportunity to have a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee hosted by a very welcoming crew. An energetic young host led us and another group in three traditional dances while we were out in the middle of the water. Next, we went to Tabgha, the site of the feeding of the five thousand. The chapel had a mosaic of the loaves and fishes in the floor at the altar, a common print on souvenirs from the Holy Land. We moved on to Capernaum. This day we expected thunderstorms but by the time we made it there it was very hot and sunny – a tribute to the fast changing forecasts and weather above the sea. Capernaum was the centre of Jesus’ ministries and life. There were ruins of a Christian church and a Jewish Synagogue dating back to the third century, on the same site as a first century synagogue where Jesus would have taught. The ruins from the town surrounding it gave a sense of the type of life other people experienced on this very holy site.
This location was very exciting for me. As I mentioned earlier I work with Timothy Schmalz. His bronze sculpture, The Homeless Jesus, was recently installed at the entrance gates to this park. I helped him make this new addition of the statue, so seeing it in this location was special. I had the chance to talk to two guys that were working there and they were kind enough to let me go behind the fence to see it close up and get a few pictures.
After that, we drove to the Mount of the Beatitudes. There is another chapel built on this site and Derek gathered us all on the hill in a beautiful garden below the chapel and shared about the cultural and biblical history of the Sermon on the Mount and the beatitudes that aren’t often talked about or understood in the English translation. Our final stop was Magdala. This site celebrated women disciples of Jesus, as it was the home of Mary Magdalene. The chapel here had pillars with the names of six women who followed Jesus that are often not mentioned in the church. In the excavation of this archaeological site, a carved stone representing the temple in Jerusalem was recently discovered, in excellent condition, in the ruins of the local synagogue.
On our way home, the group stopped at a grocery store to pick up snacks. Going into the grocery store was something that many of us reflected was a very exciting experience whenever we’re in a new place. The day was more humid than is often expected so by the time we finally made it back to the Hostel for 6:30 the whole group was happy to relax, eat supper and settle down for the night. All in all we had a great day where we were able to see more of where we know Jesus held his ministry and wade in the sea that Jesus walked on.