Nazareth Village interest highest everBy Rosabeth Birky Koehn Mennonite Mission Network
NAZARETH, Israel — Two thousand years ago in Galilee, Nathanael demanded of Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip’s reply: “Come and see” (John 2:46).
Based on present-day media coverage of Israel-Palestine, many North Americans might echo Nathanael’s incredulity. Nazareth Village calls across political division to these doubters, reiterating Philip’s challenge to overcome negative expectations.
In April and May, 11 Mennonite tour groups took Philip’s advice and went to Nazareth Village, a Mennonite Mission Network partner organization.
Nazareth Village is a re-creation of Jesus’ hometown 2,000 years ago. When visitors enter the village, they step into a living, breathing first-century Galilean town. Actors become villagers as they work functional farms and use an olive press, carpentry shop and synagogue. Guests tour the village and interact with its residents.
Compared to the three Mennonite groups per year the village on averaged since it opened in 2000, the recent Anabaptist interest is unprecedented.
“This site is one that surpasses virtually all others in its ability to interpret the story and stories of Jesus,” said Dorothy Jean Weaver, Eastern Mennonite Seminary professor of New Testament and recent Middle East trip leader.
According to Shirley Roth, Nazareth Village director and Mission Network worker, the desire among Mennonites to interact intimately with the Jesus story probably comes from the Anabaptist emphasis on centering faith in Christ’s teachings.
“We focus on telling the stories and parables of Jesus, not a particular church dogma or religious bent,” she said.
Jamie Gerber, pastor at Crosshill (Ont.) Mennonite Church, helped lead a Middle East study tour in May sponsored by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada and Mennonite Central Committee Canada.
“Nazareth Village provides an opportunity for hands-on life experience in Jesus’ world,” he wrote.
Comment on the article Nazareth Village interest highest ever
Please keep comments civil. MWR editors reserve the right to remove any comment. When posting a comment, you agree to the MWR Comments Policy. Name and comment will be posted; commenters are strongly encouraged to give their full name. Email address is for follow-up only and will not be made public.