My wife and I recently returned from a ten day pilgrimage in the Holy Land. It was a wonderful experience and one we shall never forget. Six days were spent in Jerusalem and then four in Tiberias at the edge the Sea of Galilee. It is difficult for me to single out a highlight, for there were so many, but I did enjoy the Galilee dimension of the pilgrimage more than the Jerusalem one. And I was so uplifted by the beauty of the two great “Seas” in this land – the Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee, and linked as they are by the famous River Jordon where we witnessed several baptisms.
I seemed to be almost addicted to taking photographs of Lake Galilee at sunrise and sunset, and I got some amazing pictures of the Dead Sea from the high vantage point of Masada. Our guide Sam was very keen to emphasise a major difference between the two seas at either end of the Jordon. Galilee is teeming with life and the fishing industry is still vibrant. I think there are 29 different kinds of fish to be found there. Whereas there is no life in the Dead Sea except for bacteria; should fish enter it from the Jordon, it’s major tributary, they quickly die.
We all know about the saltiness of the Dead Sea. (Over 9 times saltier than normal sea water). The reason why the Dead Sea is as it is, is simply because it has no outlets – no outflow – only inflow, and that comes almost entirely from the Jordon. The Sea of Galilee has both inflow and outflow – several tributaries.
There is here an important lesson about the operation of God’s grace and life in our lives. We treasure the inflow of God’s grace into our lives – and rightly so. Grace flows too us freely from God day in and day out. “Grace which like the Lord the giver – never fails from age to age.”. But if we are to be true disciples of Jesus the Life – there must be an outflow for grace also – an outflow of God’s love to others around us. Our faith is about inflow and outflow, for as Jesus insisted just before sending his disciples on mission; “Freely you have received – freely give.” Then life in all its fulness abounds!
Rev Peter Clarkson