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Friday September 7, 2018
This morning is met with excitement. Yesterday, on our way to the hotel in the Kibbutz, our tour guide was announcing the agenda for today. One stop would the traditional baptism site on the Jordan River. People in the tour group know that I am a pastor. The young couple from Dusseldorf - Devid and Deschna - have requested that I baptize them. Hearing their testimonies and seeing their love for the Lord and passion to serve Him are an inspiration. They have seen this all as divine providence (as have I). Rex, from New Zealand, has also asked that I rebaptize him.
First, we tour the Golan Heights. This land along the northern border is critical real estate for Israel. It was taken in 1967 during the 6 days war. Syria had numerous hidden bunkers in the Heights from which they were launching rockets into Israel. Israel will never give up the Golan Heights and they shouldn't. At our stopping/viewing place we can see the Syria mountains in the distance.
Next, it is off to the Golan Heights winery for wine tasting. The water is refreshing. The bread and cheese are delicious. There is a celebration going on outside the winery and preparations are being made for Rosh Hashana - the Jewish New Year. There was even a live band outside. They played and sang some in Hebrew. It felt like home when they sang Rollin' on the River. Honest, they did. And they did a good job.
At the Jordan, two more, a couple from Sydney ask that I baptize them. Baptismal candidates must rent or buy their robes. Mine, as the pastor, is free. Sometimes being a pastor has its privileges. This is one of the most moving experiences in my life - baptizing 5 people in the Jordan.
From there, it is on to the Sea of Galilee and Tiberias. We take a boat ride on the Sea. Then lunch - St. Peter's fish. It is a fish fried essentially whole served with fries, various salads and pita bread. It was actually quite tasty and you get to look lunch in the eye. I must admit, staring at my lunch, I blinked first.
Quickly to Capernaum, Jesus' home base for ministry. There we see the ruins of a 4th century synagogue built on top of a first century synagogue. The first century synagogue is believed to be one in which Jesus taught/read the prophet. Nearby is the site thought to be the house of Peter where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law. Then off to the church on the slope believed to be where Jesus fed the 5000. Then, if we hurry (it's Friday and Shabbat or Sabbath is quickly approaching) it's to the church of the Beatitudes. It is believed that this is where the Sermon on the Mount was delivered. The church is octagonal, one wall for each beatitude.
The day has been long, but I don't feel as tired as at other times. The meal at the hotel (as at all of them) has been a veritable feast. This meal has cow tongue as an entrée. I did not mind having my meal look at me. I don't want it tasting me back. I passed and chose something else.
Perhaps I am not as tired because of the exhilaration of the baptism earlier. The night is spent visiting with our new friends from Germany, Holland, and our tour guide. It is an opportunity to give testimony to a worldview that sees God as being in control of our lives. Hopefully a seed has been planted. May God give the increase.