The Basilica of the Annunciation is the spot where it is believed that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear Jesus. It is some ancient ruins with a church built around and over them. It's partly ancient and partly modern---& it's quite beautiful. There are lovely mosaic Madonnas from all over the world inside and out.
This is my 4th year in a row to visit, but my first year to go alone. Every time I've entered the basilica this year, it's been surprisingly powerful. The words that come to mind are presence, holiness, longing, reverence and hope.
Today I happened upon a scout troop from France that had a special service at the altar in the modern part of the basilica. I started filming right at the end of their beautiful singing:
One of the many special things I get to do here is accompany the chaplains to speak with people about God and their faith. Yesterday I joined a gentleman named Simon that is from here and ministers full time. Having me with him enabled him to visit women - and we spoke to several, including Christians, Moslems, Druze and Jews.
We started in the emergency room where they asked me to pray for some friends' mother that was very ill. Then we went to internal medicine, surgery and the psychiatric ward. We handed out booklets about Jesus that are available in Arabic, English, Hebrew or Russian. The patients seemed grateful. I got some hugs and even some chocolates. Simon's 47-year-old brother died suddenly of a heart attack 10 days ago. He shared that with a couple of the patients. One said, "Here you are visiting us when we should be visiting you."
One lady and her daughter had lights in their eyes. I asked if I could take their photo to send to my church and they said yes. Here it is.....