I lived the first eighteen years of my life in northeast Pennsylvania, most of those years in a town called Hawley. Even though I am now fifty-three years old, and have never lived there since that time - even though I've lived in Massachusetts longer than Hawley - when someone asks me where I am from, I still say, "Pennsylvania."
Jesus was said to have been born in Bethlehem of Judea. That's important, but the circumstances around his birth and the reason his parents ended up there were complicated.
Jesus spent the last week or so of his life in Jerusalem and perhaps made other pilgrimages there before then. It matters where he died, and where he rose again.
But Jesus was from Nazareth - in the hill country. He moved from there to Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee - which is really a lake. On this pilgrimage, as I was both of the first two times I came here, I feel connected to the Lake and to the small towns around it more than Jerusalem. I love Jerusalem but it's complex, louder, and harder to get your bearings if you are basically a small-town kid. There is simply something more familiar for me about the towns around this Lake.
I think that one might say of Jesus (as is said of many small-town boys) - "you can take the boy out of Nazareth, but you can't take Nazareth out of the boy."
Jesus lived and breathed and walked and taught and healed and ate and drank and laughed and cried and dreamed and loved in and around the Lake. It is a familiar place for me in many ways.
Six years ago I blogged a lot about the details. You can read those posts, if you are interested, here and here and here and here. This time around, I want to just let the pictures below speak for themselves.