Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Israeli and Jordanian Soldiers, and Baptism

Mount Tabor

Mount Tabor
There is a second century tradition that places the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor. Mount Tabor is mentioned in the Psalms, but it is not mentioned in the Gospel story of the Transfiguration. It is much more likely that the Transfiguration of Jesus took place on Mount Hermon, in the north of the country in what was Caesarea Philipi.  But as far as having a location for pilgrimage in order to reflect on this great and important Gospel story, Mount Tabor works.


The remains of an early Benedictine monastery is part of the mountain summit.

Remains of an early Benedictine monastery

The beautiful Church of Transfiguration

Spectacular view from on top of Mount Tabor

But a beautiful more modern building is now on the site. Notice the design of three booths on top, one for Jesus, Elijah and Moses.

Jordan River

From Mount Tabor, we then made our way to the Jordan River to renew our baptismal vows.

The drive along the Jordan River Valley, clearly showed the military zone dividing Jordan and Israel. And again, as with the West Bank and the Syrian border, Israel is occupying Jordanian land along the two country's borders. 

The military zone dividing Jordan and Israel

To get to the Jordan River as a destination of pilgrimage, we had to drive through the military zone, with Israeli and Jordanian soldiers on each side.

Israeli Solders at the River Jordan

Jordanian soldier on the other side of the river

Despite the clear military presence, we were thankful and blessed to be in such a holy place. The place where Jesus entered into the water and was baptized by John the Baptist. And when he came up out of the water, a voice from heaven said “you are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Touching the water from the Jordan

The St.George's group

The Zacchaeus Tree in Jericho
We then moved out of the fertile Jordan Valley and back into the West Bank and the Palestinian city of Jericho. Jericho is the Biblical city that Joshua and the Israelites attached and its walls fell down. It is also the city where Jesus called Zacchaeus down from the sycamore tree, and healed a blind man.

Jericho is near the Judaean Desert, and therefore a place that attracted monks after the fourth century.

Monastery in the Mountain of the Temptations

This monastery still has monks living in it, and is built right into the mountain, that the Crusaders called the “Mount of Temptation;” a place not unlike where Jesus retreated to be tempted by the devil.

Abid, our Muslim bus driver, riding a camel

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