It’s been a good day in Nazareth. The principal new discovery, as far as I was concerned, were the wonderful excavations which are beneath the Convent of the Sisters of Nazareth. What they have there is simply amazing. There’s a 1st century cave house with the most perfect door and a similarly dated tomb complete with an intact, in place, rolling stone.
The poem ‘Here is the little door’ by G K Chesterton came to mind. Obviously Chesterton was writing about Bethlehem not Nazareth. But allow my imagination to wander.
Here is the little door, lift up the latch, oh lift!
Was there a latch on the door that filled this entrance and made this home secure? And did Jesus live here? There’s no evidence of course just the evidence of our sisters and brothers from Byzantine times who revered this place and worshipped here. The evidence of faith is strong.
In the afternoon we went to Mount Tabor where I hadn’t been for a few years. It’s a fantastic place. The mount, the views, the church- each is amazing. But what made me think was that whole business of the church ignoring the words of Jesus.
Mount Tabor is the traditional site of the Transfiguration (or at least from Byzantine times). So every pilgrim group thatvarrives there in the hairraising taxis reads one of the accounts of that event. Peter, James and John are so thrilled with the experience that they wish to build dwellings on the spot.
Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ (Matthew 17.4)
But this was not what Jesus wanted. Yet we have built a church with three booths – for Jesus, Moses and Elijah! Perhaps we couldn’t live in the cloud, in the mystery. Perhaps we can only believe if we put one stone on another, see it, touch it. As beautiful as Tabor is perhaps the Mount would be better as Jesus left it – empty – with only the deepest spiritual experience to fix us into the divine. But we like to engage in a bit of booth building rather than entering that more challenging ‘cloud of unknowing’!
Lord, give me the confidence to enter the cloud, to leave behind the security of the senses and to immerse myself in you. Amen.