Stepping back into Biblical history

Danette Dooley
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Published on December 19, 2013

Major Violet Chaulk recently returned to Grand Falls-Windsor from a trip to the Holy Lands where she visited the Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem.

Published on December 19, 2013

One of the many highlights for Major Violet Chaulk was Bethlehem. Pictured is the Church of the Nativity, built over the cave where Jesus was born. It was so crowded Major Chaulk said all she could do was go in, take a picture, and get out. “I thought about what it must have been like back when Jesus was born for there was a crowd gathered for a census and many of them had no idea that Christ was being born,” she said. “I saw the irony that now I was one of the crowd who trying to see where he was born.”

Published on December 19, 2013

Also in Bethlehem, this is said to have been where the manger was.

Published on December 19, 2013

They also went to a trip to Nazareth. Today the population is over 50,000 but in Jesus’ day it was 200-250. It is here that they visited the Catholic church, the church of Annunciation, that is built over the cave where the angle Gabriel appeared to Mary with the announcement that God wanted her to bear a son and call Him Jesus. The Christmas experience really started to come alive for Major Violet Chaulk at this location.

Published on December 19, 2013

On the first day of the tour they went to St. Peters Primacy, on the shores of Galilee. There was a church built over the site of a rock where it is said that Jesus prepared a meal for the disciples on the shore. It is also the place where Jesus had the conversation with Peter to "feed the sheep." In the biblical story this is seen as a restoring of his faith for Peter.

Published on December 19, 2013

Major Violet Chaulk and the group retraced the journey of Jesus when he crossed over Galilee by sea. The boat is a large version of the boats that were used in Jesus’ day. Here they sang Jewish songs, O Canada and enjoyed hearing stories and seeing the view.

During her recent pilgrimage to the Holy Lands Major Violet Chaulk stood on the ground where the Bible says Jesus was born, crucified, died and rose from the dead.

“You look at Christmas in a totally different light,” Chaulk says of how the trip has affect her.

Chaulk was in the Holy Lands in October/November as part of a Salvation Army education tour.

During the first day of the tour the group travelled to the Mount of Beatitudes - a hill in northern Israel where Jesus is believed to have delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

“This is where Jesus spoke to large groups of people and where he fed over 5,000 people with loaves and fishes,” Chaulk says.

During archeology digs in the area, she says, tiles were found of two small fish and five loaves.

Chaulk saw the tiles and read the Bible story.

“It was so wonderful just to read the story and to pray together in that spot.”

The group also visited St. Peter’s Primacy located on the shores of Galilee.

A church has been built over the site of a rock where it is believed that Jesus prepared breakfast for the disciples. It is also the place where Jesus had the conversation with Peter to "feed the sheep,” Chaulk says.

“In the biblical story this is seen as a restoring of his faith for Peter. Our group had devotions in this place and all I can say is I got the good bumps as I silently prayed for a deeper experience of my faith.”

Another never to forget experience was retracing Jesus’ journey as he crossed the Sea of Galilee.

The boat the group travelled in is a larger version of the boats that were used in Jesus’ day, Chaulk says.

“We sang Jewish songs, sang “O Canada” and enjoyed hearing stories and seeing the view. We learned some Hebrew dances, which was fun.”

While visiting the place in Nazareth (upon which a church has been built) where God spoke to Mary through an angel, Chaulk says she couldn't help but think what a mature and incredible girl Mary must have been.

God told Mary he wanted her to bear a son and call him Jesus.

“God said ‘You will bear a child.’ And she said ‘Be it onto me as you have said.’  As I stood here I wanted to weep but couldn't explain why. I guess I was reminded that faith can be simple and profound all at the same time.”

 

While it’s difficult to pinpoint one particular highlight of the trip, Chaulk says her visit to

Bethlehem was unforgettable including the group’s tour of the Church of the Nativity. There were thousands of people in the church at the time, she says.

It’s where the Christmas experience really started to come alive for her, she says.

Chaulk says the church is built over the site where Jesus was born – in a cave not a stable.

“I pictured Mary having a baby in this cold damp cave with a few animals and then putting the baby in a feeding stall. But in one area when you walked through this cave there was a living area… then when you turn to the right there’s a place for the animals who lived under the same roof with the people. And in back is where Mary would have given birth.”

The feeding stall where Jesus would have been placed when born isn’t the image that’s always been in her mind, she says.

“It’s a big block of stone but with some hay in there it could be quite snug.”

Another highlight on the journey was the trip to Jerusalem, Chaulk says as it’s hard to separate his birth from his death in the life of Christ.

 

“Jerusalem was, in many ways, as meaningful to the moment as Bethlehem.”

 

Chaulk visited the church that’s erected over the site where Jesus is said to have been crucified and resurrected and took hundreds of pictures while on the pilgrimage.

 

There are pictures of the rock Jesus is said to have knelt by before his arrest, the cave where he is said to have been placed after being crucified and the tomb where it is believed he was buried and rose from the dead.

 

The journey was as educational as it was spiritual, Chaulk says. Her words are confirmed by a picture of her riding a camel in Petra, Jordan.

 

Originally from Elliston, Trinity Bay, Chaulk is social services coordinator for the Salvation Army in Grand Falls-Windsor and chaplain at the hospital.

 

She is grateful to the Salvation Army for helping her realize her dream of visiting the Holy Lands.

 

Although she’s well versed in the scriptures, Chaulk says during her trip her journal writings gave her an opportunity to thank the Lord for being the gift and the reason why she enjoys Christmas so much. The experience will be heighted this year, she says, because of her recent experience.

“Someone said, you come back with the same faith but you’re different people. And that’s just the way it is. Every time I read the Christmas story now I become more reflective. Because I was there, the story becomes more alive. It impacts how you see the world.”

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Salvation Army, Church of the Nativity

Geographic location: Sea of Galilee, Northern Israel, Bethlehem Nazareth Jerusalem Jordan Elliston Trinity Bay Grand Falls-Windsor

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