On Day 4 of the Ecclesia Houston tour with Breaking Bread Journeys, we made our way to Cana, where, according to John’s Gospel, Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine for a wedding celebration. Married couples from our group took the opportunity to renew their wedding vows in a very moving ceremony in one of the gardens of the Franciscan Wedding Church. A couple in the group announced that they would have Pastor Chris marry them, so we had the incredible delight of witnessing a real marriage at Cana! I was so honored to be able to document their day. A member of our group, Sarah Fusilier, blessed us with her vocal talents to provide an enchanting backdrop for the beautiful yet simple ceremony. Our tour guide had found a local shop that served cake and wine just for such occasions, perfect for our impromptu reception.
As I pondered my devotional thought for the day, my focus turned to a theme of celebrating faith and miracles. This world needs more faith. This world needs more miracles. This world needs more faith that miracles are possible. And we need more joy, more celebration of the blessings we do have. Life is very challenging, very overwhelming. As we focus more on celebrating the good we do have in our lives, our faith will increase, and we will believe that more miracles are possible— more miracles that will lead to real change and healing in our broken world. It is fascinating to me that Jesus performed his first miracle at a celebration, turning water into wine, and that the host of the party remarked that the best wine had been saved for the end of the celebration, contrary to tradition. What I take away from this passage is that in our quest to repair a broken world, we will have to think outside the box of tradition and cultural rules while having faith that miracles are possible.
We had the chance today to celebrate life, marriage, and community with the gifts of new friendships, wine, and the miracle of good prevailing in a dark world.
We then made our way to Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus. We took a short hike to Mt. Precipice for some beautiful panoramic views. It is believed by many to be the site of the Rejection of Jesus described in Luke 4:29-30 – The people of Nazareth, not accepting Jesus as Messiah tried to push him from the mountain, but “he passed through the midst of them and went away.” The mount is situated on the southern edge of the city and provides beautiful views of the valley below and Mt. Tabor (Mount of Transfiguration) seen as an isolated peak to the east. The beautiful views provided for some great shots of the group.
After that we were ready for lunch and a wine tasting at Tulip Winery. We were blessed by our host Lital who you could tell was very passionate about the cause behind Tulip, which employs 35 special needs adults who live in the village where the winery is located, a former kibbutz. The village’s name means “Village of Hope.”
While there, I got to see my friend Nathan who works at Tulip Winery (יקב טוליפ). You’ll see a couple of my portraits of him in this next group of photos. A former tour group member had sent us with a Houston Astros championship hat as a gift for him since we know he loves hats! It was my sixth time to meet him and it seems he is happier every time I see him. He’s challenged with a rare genetic disorder— at the age of 70 he has by far outlived the doctors’ expectations and is the oldest man in the world to carry the disease. I believe it’s because he has been honored and given a purpose at Tulip. There they say “Labels are for wine bottles, not for people.” They were founded with the purpose of providing adults like him with employment and the support of community on the former kibbutz where they’re located. Started as a tiny boutique winery in 2003, now they are shipping close to 500,000 bottles of wine annually and have won various awards locally and internationally. I have really grown to love this place.
Last but not least, we arrived at our next hotel, The Scots Hotel, where we were greeted by this kind fellow offering us whiskey with hot apple cider. The hotel is a former hospital started by the Scottish Church.