We traveled from Jerusalem to Jericho and the traditional site of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. This site hasn’t always been accessible. It is in the West Bank and right by the border of Jordan. It is not hard to imagine this as the place that John the Baptist was calling people to repent.
While we were here Bishop Trimble and I waded into the River and a number of people from our travel group opted to remember their baptisms in the waters of the Jordan River.
Then it got interesting … there are always many other people around you while you visit the various sites in Israel. They are from all over the world and they are there for the same reasons. We have encounter groups from Japan, Philippines, Brasil, Italy, India, Mexico, Croatia, Greece, and Germany to name just a few.
So just as we finished with our last people in our group … a group of young students from Russia began to wade into the water and come to Bishop Trimble and myself. They spoke no English (and we no Russian), but they came wanting to be baptized. So we baptized the first one … and then the second … and on and on …
I hope that in some way I capture the feeling of John the Baptist as people came from all over to be baptized. It was truly humbling and amazing!
We then journey thru Jericho and headed back to Jerusalem. We stopped and viewed the area that is traditionally the place of the 40 Days of Temptation and hit the Jericho Road. We had one last surprise stop – the Judean Wilderness and the sight of St George’s Monastery that dates to the 4th Century.
This wilderness is nothing like you have ever seen. The Jericho Road lays at the bottom of these rocky hills and provides some relief as their is a stream that runs at the bottom providing water, but the rest is filled with treachery.
To speak of wandering in the wilderness means hardship, loneliness, and death.
You can’t help but look out on this space and wonder what wilderness of life has taken precedence in your life … oh and that was the same thing a few other groups were pondering on the hillside – they weren’t from America either, but we didn’t bother asking where they were from … we knew it was more important that we were all trying to get to the same place – a deeper understanding of life with Jesus and an escape from our own wanderings in the wilderness of life.
Tomorrow we wander the Old City of Jerusalem and the places that Jesus taught and saw.