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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kirsi, Boatride and Jordan River

Next we headed to the Eastern shore of the Galilee to Kirsi where in Mark 5 Jesus cast a legion of demons into swine. This location fits the story as there are steep cliffs here running down to water where the swine would have ran off and died. The Byzantine monastary here at Kirsi was found by mistake when they were widening the roads in the early 1980s.
However, swine is a problem in this story since Jews dont eat pork.....why were Jews herding pigs? The answer....this is probably an early contact that Jesus had with gentiles in that area....probably a Roman city but definitely not Jewish.
In the monastary there is an olive press for income and to also make annointing oil. There is a beautiful mosaic floor here and even though it was a Byzantine church you dont see any images. This is probably because they were defaced when the Muslims conquered the land and carried out the Islamic Law of no images.....or destroyed by the Greek Orthodox....you can see where images may have been in the floor but were torn out.
There is also a crypt to the right of the main room where 35 priests who served in this monastary were buried.
Up the hill from the church is a small shrine dedicated to the spot where Christ encountered the demon possessed man. You can see the Sea from the top and its easy to picture how the swine would have run off.

After Kirsi we headed back to the shore of the Galilee to get on a boat and ride around. We went towards the Mt of Beattitudes and Capernaum. As we were out there I thought about Jesus calming the storms and walking on water. It was a gorgeous day and everyone was glad to be together. They raised the American and Israel flag and we sang and listened to both national anthems. Afterwards the captain put on christian music and we all sang familiar songs as we went along.

Back on land we headed to the Jordan River for the last part of our day. Our tour guide told us that we could get baptized here but no swimming. In fact, to enter the water you are supposed to have a white robe on. There were several large groups of people there singing worship songs and lining up to be dunked. Two girls from our group wanted to be baptized there....one to resubmit her life to Christ and also to accompany our friend Savannah as she was being baptized for the first time. Savannah grew up Catholic and had never been baptized by submersion. A pastor in our group, Steve Allen, who is a missionary in Swaziland (spelling) baptized them. It was a very special time and I hope it spoke to the nonbelievers in our group.
By the way, there are huge catfish in the Jordan River and at times it is less than 4 or 5 feet wide. After that we headed back to Neve Shalom and got ready for our last full week of digging.

Pictures from Kirsi, boatride and Jordan River

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