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Sunday 14 October: NEVER ON SUNDAY

Dinner in Nazareth

This morning we are going to worship back at the same Baptist Church in Nazareth that we went to last Sunday morning. Not the original Nazareth Baptist Church, the Baptist Church with the Pastor who is nearly 90 years of age, but the break away Baptist Church that meets in the Baptist School right next door. Bryson is preaching this morning and we want to support him. Last Sunday we were given head phones so that we could receive a translation from Arabic into English. We wonder if we will be given head phones again this Sunday so that we can receive a translation from Glaswegian into English?

But first, we go down to have breakfast at Villa Nazareth. It turns out that we were the only people staying here last night, despite the fact that there were lots of people in the roof top restaurant for dinner last night. Breakfast is laid out for us on one of the tables in the Breakfast Room … and we are offered omelettes if we would like them … and they turn out to be most delicious!

It is so nice to be able to leave our hotel and just walk down the road to church. When we get there, there are lots of Americans standing waiting in the school playground. They are a very nice group of people who are staying in Nazareth for a few days, and they have come to worship with us this morning. There are about 45 of them and they take up half the available space in the school hall where the church meets. These Arab Christians are so gracious, however. They just go with the flow, make room, and we all somehow manage to fit in to the hall. Azar leads the worship, so he can translate what he says into English as soon as he has said it. It is lovely to hear the hymns and songs sung in both Arabic and English at the same time as together we attempt to ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord’.

Bryson does really well. The church is looking at 1 Peter on Sunday mornings, and Bryson has been given a great chunk of 1 Peter 3 to expound. I have a series of sermons on 1 Peter, and I am sure that I actually got at least three sermons out of the passage Bryson has to tackle. It is nice to actually have a whole chunk of Scripture actually read in a service for a change. After the service there is Arabic coffee and yummy cakes served … not too many of our new American friends stop for this … all the more for us then!

After church Julia wants to go for a wander before lunch. There are a few sites we haven’t seen yet here in Nazareth, including Saint Joseph’s Church, built over the alleged site of Joseph’s work shop in Nazareth. It is on the same site as the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation. We saw it before when we came in 2004 and we easily find it again, discovering some ruins of ancient Nazareth in the process. I like Saint Joseph’s and the alleged ruins of Joseph’s house in the crypt.

After we have visited this site we go for a long cold drink of fresh lemonade and then I suggest we walk back to Villa Nazareth through the market. There is method to my madness … all the market stalls are shut on a Sunday. Big mistake on my part. There is one stall open by the site of the ancient synagogue … and it sells cashmere scarves for just £4.50! Julia spots one that ‘she just must have’. Sacrificially she decides that she won’t buy it now but wait until Tuesday. She tells the nice Christian Arab shopkeeper, who is keen to sell her a scarf, that she will be back to buy it on Tuesday. But 100 yards further on she changes her mind, and we go back to buy it. ‘Is it Tuesday already?’ asks the nice Arab shopkeeper.

When we get back to Villa Nazareth we discover that our room has not been cleaned, our bed linen has not been changed, and we do not have fresh towels. There doesn’t appear to be anyone around, so we set to and soon have our room ship shape, our beds made, and our wet towels hung up to dry. One of the good things about being here is that the temperature is always around 33 degrees so washing dries quickly even indoors. We have a nice rest, and then get changed and go up to the hotel roof top restaurant for dinner. It is closed! We go to reception and the nice receptionist … who we have nicknamed ‘Awesome’ because every other word is ‘awesome’ (pronounced with an American accent) … tells us that the restaurant is closed because it is Sunday and everybody is off until Monday except her. We ask her where we can get some dinner, and she directs us to a restaurant in the square by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation … indeed she walks down the road with us and points it out to us. It is actually the only restaurant that appears to be open?

We enjoy a wonderful meal … veal fillet steak and chips … and a couple of glasses of gorgeous red wine. It is yumacious! It costs an arm and a leg but at least it’s not chicken. We walk the short distance back to Villa Nazareth after dinner. ‘How was your meal?’ asks our nice receptionist. ‘Awesome!’ we reply.

Jim Binney

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