Another transformative, affecting day.
Today we had an early start. After breakfast at 6.30, we were off to Holy Eucharist and a tour of the Church of the Transfiguration. The church, like many in Israel’s holiest places, is operated by the Franciscans, who extend the hospitality of the Church to thousands of pilgrims daily.
The priest responsible for scheduling worship services was kind to allow our Anglican group to break bread in the spectacular chapel at the Church of the Transfiguration. The chapel, located a hundred feet from the place where we believe Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of Peter and James and John, was a beautiful, frescoe-lined setting. The place in which Moses and Elijah appeared with the Lord, and the Father’s voice boomed ‘This is my Son!’ proved to be a setting in which the Lord spoke powerfully to the hearts of our group.
The interesting drive to the top reminded us of the rigor of the apostles’ ascent. And the amazing views from the top were the same for us as they were for Christ and the chosen three.
We left Transfiguration deeply affected. And off to a new adventure – the Jordanian border crossing.
This was the first tension we felt since entering the Holy land. Crossing involves the use of three buses through something of a buffer zone. Thankfully, after a little trepidation, the crossing was uneventful.
Our first impressions of Jordan were the dry earth and deep poverty we observed as we drove. The contrast between the productive land of the Galilee, teeming with fruit, vegetables, and grains, and the desert we experienced in Jordan was stark. And the pervasive poverty was a new sight for our group.
After a late but full and delicious lunch, we continued to Jerash. This community, called Gerasa in the Roman era, was a significant community in Roman Syria which thrived until destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 749. The remains of Gerasa are especially extensive and well preserved: a hippodrome, an amazing theatre, a long colonnaded street, and a magnificent arch built to honor and welcome emperor Hadrian (who built the wall in Great Britain), in A.D. 129.
From Jerash, we made our way to our hotel, the Marriott Dead Sea, and enjoyed a good meal and comfortable beds.