Dome on the Rock

Tuesday 25th March

The posts from 20-28 March 2014 were originally posts formatted for Tumblr. Click here to see the original blog.

The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth has been a bit of a challenge today. The two top-most pictures are inside – upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs is a magnificent church with a large nave. It was packed with worshippers. Today is after all the Feast of the Annunciation. Downstairs and visible through a well in the main church poor was a crypt containing the remains of a troglodyte home thought to have been that of Mary and of Jesus’ childhood. It was all most beautifully done. A light and well ordered church with good space for worship and free of tat. Just how the Church of the Resurrection (Holy Sepulchre) in Jerusalem or the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem could have been. The Nazareth Church is looked after by Roman Catholics, the Jerusalem and Bethlehem ones by Orthodox. But somehow the Orthodox churches engaged me at a spiritual level and the church at Nazareth did not. The home of the childhood Jesus and possible place of the Annunciation felt just like a museum and engaged me as such. I may need to review my assessment of what it is that obscures the Gospel and what reveals.

Also pictured above are two Muslim colleagues reaching in to the Sea of Galilee, Shafique on the left and Ibrahim on the right. Between them sits a bird from the ancient mosaic floor of the Church of the Multiplication. The natural environment of the Sea and the birds on the floor of the church were a strong reminder of the world in which Jesus lived, rich and teaming with life in the water and the air.

Underneath are pictures of the Church of the Beatitudes (uppermost) and the church at Capernaum built directly over Peter’s Mother-in-law’s house where Jesus is thought to have lived for some time (bottom). It is perhaps in the simplicity of Capernaum above all places that we have felt, Muslims and Christians alike, we were in the footsteps of Jesus.

Published by

Tim Stratford

Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford Dean of Chester

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