Day 3: Nazareth, Mary’s Well, Mount Precipice, Tulip Winery

Today we made our way to Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus. We made a visit to one of my favorite churches in the world, the Church of Mary’s Well, a Greek Orthodox Church. We happened to discover that today was Christmas Day on the Orthodox Calendar! So our tour of the church was very limited due to the fact they were holding a Christmas Day mass. It is believed that this humble church sits atop a natural spring which would have most likely been the spot from which the ancient community well of Nazareth was sourced. So it is probable that Mary drew water from this well for the holy family. The murals and iconography in the church are beautifully done and very inspiring.

We then 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 (יקב טוליפ). I love 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.”

There they say “Labels are for wine bottles, not for people.” They were founded with a purpose of providing special needs adults 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 over 500,000 bottles of wine annually and have won various awards locally and internationally. I have really grown to love this place.

Day 2: Nazareth, Mary’s Well, Mt. Precipice, Tulip Winery

Today we made our way to Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus. We enjoyed one of my favorite churches in the world, the Church of Mary’s Well. It is believed that this humble church sits atop a natural spring which would have most likely been the spot from which the ancient community well of Nazareth was sourced. So it is probable that Mary drew water from this well for the holy family. The murals and iconography in the church are beautifully done and very inspiring.

We then 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 (יקב טוליפ). I love 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.”

There they say “Labels are for wine bottles, not for people.” They were founded with a purpose of providing special needs adults 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 over 500,000 bottles of wine annually and have won various awards locally and internationally. I have really grown to love this place.

Lastly, we arrived at our hotel on the south shore of the Sea of Galilee just in time for a breathtaking sunset.

Day 4: Cana, Mount Precipice, Tulip Winery

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.

Holy Land Day 2: Nazareth, Tulip Winery, Cana

Continuing our tour with Ecclesia Houston, guided by Breaking Bread Journeys, today we visited Mary’s Well, which is believed to be located at the site where Christians hold that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would bear the Son of God, an event known as the Annunciation.

Found just below the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in modern-day Nazareth, the well was positioned over an underground spring that served for centuries as a local watering hole for the Arab villagers. The actual well-spring is difficult to see down a dark passage, but I did manage to get some shots of the beautiful interior of the Greek Orthodox church; Greek iconography is one of my favorite art forms.

Be sure to follow my fellow documentarian Giovanni Arias for his perspective on the journey, including some great videos, like this one at Cana today.

Click/Tap any photo to start a slideshow. 

For lunch we spent the afternoon hearing the beautiful story of Tulip Winery. The Israeli winery employs special needs adults who make their home in the village of Kfar Tikvah where the winery is located, in the Haifa District. We met some of these wonderful people whose lives have been transformed through the healing of having a job they love, where they are appreciated and valued. We were treated to a delicious lunch and an unforgettable wine tasting. We were blessed by our host who we could tell was very enthusiastic about the cause behind Tulip, which employs 39 special needs adults who live in the village where the winery is located, a former kibbutz. The village’s name appropriately means “Village of Hope.” This was my 5th visit to Tulip, but today was the first time I had noticed their horse stables and rabbit hutches. Today we learned that they keep various animals for the purpose of therapy for the special needs adults. In my opinion, horses are majestic and beautiful animals and I love the rare chance I have to photograph them.

From Tulip Winery 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.

Mount Precipice, Tulip Winery, Cana

Today we started our tour in Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus. We took a short hike to Mt. Precipice. 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…

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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.” We were also able to meet the winery’s founder, Roy Itzchaki.

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From Tulip Winery 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.

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Ecclesia with Breaking Bread Journeys: Mt. Precipice, Mary’s Well, Tulip Winery

Today we started our tour in Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus. We took a short hike to Mt. Precipice. 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.

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Next we visited Mary’s Well, which is believed to be located at the site where Christians hold that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would bear the Son of God, an event known as the Annunciation.

Found just below the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in modern-day Nazareth, the well was positioned over an underground spring that served for centuries as a local watering hole for the Arab villagers. The actual well-spring is difficult to see down a dark passage, but I did manage to get some shots of the beautiful interior of the Greek Orthodox church; Greek iconography is one of my favorite art forms.

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For lunch we spent the afternoon hearing the beautiful story of Tulip Winery. The Israeli winery employs special needs adults who make their home in the village of Kfar Tikvah where the winery is located, in the Haifa District. We met some of these wonderful people whose lives have been transformed through the healing of having a job they love, where they are appreciated and valued. We were treated to a delicious lunch and an unforgettable wine tasting. 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 appropriately means “Village of Hope.”

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Lastly, we came back to our hotel where we enjoyed a dinner with wine pairings, hosted by the Scots Hotel’s resident winemaker, Denis. They have a beautiful wine cellar…

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Ecclesia with Breaking Bread Journeys: Cana, Mt. Precipice, Tulip Winery

August 3, 2015. Today we visited 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 chapels of the Franciscan Wedding Church at Cana.

Later we drove through Nazareth, Jesus’ childhood home, to visit nearby Mount Precipice. For lunch we spent the afternoon hearing the beautiful story of Tulip Winery. The Israeli winery employs special needs adults who make their home in the village of Kfar Tikvah where the winery is located. We met some of these wonderful people whose lives have been transformed through the healing of having a job they love, where they are appreciated and valued.

First, some images from The Franciscan Wedding Church in Cana…

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Next we made our way to Nazareth where we visited the peak of Mt. Precipice. 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 views were quite stunning. We could see Mt. Tabor (Mount of Transfiguration) in the distance.

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By then, after walking in record-breaking heat, 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.” We were also able to meet the winery’s founder, Roy Itzchaki.

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Finally we wound up back at our hotel in Tiberias on Galilee, where we ventured out for a night stroll in the market. Even at the late hour it was still hot and we were exhausted, and the whole day was a blur…

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