We are late down to breakfast this morning. We are going back to Saint Margaret’s today and we had to pack our suitcases because May is picking us up from Villa Nazareth in her car. When we get to the Breakfast Room all the German group are sitting around in the sunshine in the courtyard outside drinking coffee. We go into the Breakfast Room to discover all the food has already gone … the Germans have eaten it all. If the hotel had a swimming pool all the sun loungers would be covered with German towels I guess! The Belgians left at the crack of dawn … perhaps they managed to get some breakfast before they left?! Fortunately we get on really well with the staff at Villa Nazareth. They seem to like us, and they go and get some more food for us.
May picks us up in her nice car and drives us up to the Seminary. Julia is leading our devotions this morning. I wonder how they will take to her. There simply isn’t a place for women Pastors in either the Arab Christian Churches or the Messianic Jewish Congregations. I wonder if any of our party, or those who will possibly be present, share these views? I know how good Julia is, but I also know that some people really struggle theologically (although I think there problem is actually cultural) with a woman preaching or teaching. I needn’t have worried though. Julia is her usual brilliant self, and leads us sensitively and movingly in our devotional time, centring our thoughts around the story of the Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4). Everyone is very quiet when she has finished. We then share together in a lovely time of prayer before Phil takes over and talks to us about ‘Issues for the Church in Israel’. Essentially it is a historical overview of how the evangelical church came to be established in Israel-Palestine including where things stand today. It is quite brilliant, appears to be off the cuff, but clearly has a lot of prayerful thought behind it. We are learning so much during these extended days in Nazareth. I am really impressed not only by the academic standard of the staff here at NETS but also by the humble way they share their knowledge and insights with us. I have spent a lot of time mixing with academics over the last 25 years, and have found the arrogance and ‘one-up-man-ship’ too often displayed rather disturbing and disappointing. These guys have been very different, however.
After the morning lecture May drives us up to her and Bryson’s apartment via the Shopping Mall. We could be in any Shopping Mall in the UK if it were not for the fact that everything is in Hebrew and Arabic as well as English and we have to go through a security check-point to actually get in to the Shopping Mall. We are going to May and Bryson’s apartment so that we can wash our dirty clothes in their washing machine, and so that Julia can bake some more bread. Bryson is there working on an academic paper so we are able to have a chat, while we eat our packed lunch, and learn more about NETS itself. May drives us back to Saint Margaret’s where we are reunited with the other members of our group, and return to our old room. It is good to be back. We think we like Saint Margaret’s after all … especially after our recent experiences at Villa Nazareth. We are just in time for dinner … and what do you know … we get hamburgers instead of chicken!