For a country that is only 2% Christian, Israel has some churches. The ones we visited were ones at or near places where Jesus did things.
The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth
looks like a Star Wars time warp on the inside.
It's the "traditional" place where Gabriel appeared to Mary. "Traditional" is the word they throw in when they're pretty sure they're wrong, but maybe they're right.
Anyway, Mary and little Baby Jesus play a prominent role here. The garden outside is full of Mary and Baby Jesus' from across the world. Here is China's:
Carley: "Hey, um, you know, sweetie, Jesus did grow up. You don't always have to call him, 'baby.' It's a bit odd and off-putting to pray to a baby."Ricky: "Well, I like the Christmas Jesus best and I'm saying grace. When you say grace, you can say it to grownup Jesus or teenage Jesus or bearded Jesus, or whoever you want."
Cal: "I like to picture Jesus in a Tuxedo T-shirt because it says, like, 'I wanna be formal, but I'm here to party too.'"
The United States pictures Mary as Lady Gaga.
It reminds me of the quote attributed to many: God created man in his own image, and we have been returning the favor ever since.
Germany made the door. There's a sculpture inlaid in the bottom left corner of Jesus as a teenager. This is Jesus in Nazareth: The boy who grew and became strong; was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him (Luke 2:40).
It's pretty cool, no, downright amazing, that of all the places Hunter could start Young Life he's starting it in the town where Jesus was a teenager. I couldn't help imagining Jesus in the crowd of high schoolers we met. Kids like Sari and Fareed and Anas and Jameel. He would have been in a Jewish high school, I guess - no, they didn't have high school back then...but you get what I mean.
I saw the rocks he played on. I swung from trees in the place he swung from trees. And it didn't matter to me one dot or iota whether it was the "traditional" tree or not.