Guest / Limited Access /

One of the hazards of living 24/7 surrounded by biblical history, as I do in Nazareth, is its unexpected impact on spirituality — the reverse of the famed "Jerusalem effect," in which fervent Christian pilgrims are overwhelmed by the city's intense spiritual atmosphere.

In Nazareth, my office at the Baptist school is 200 yards away from "Mary's well." According to tradition, the Virgin Mary, together with her fellow women of first-century Nazareth, would go there daily to fetch water for the family and touch base on the latest news of the day. My office is also half a mile away from the sites, recognized by ancient tradition, of the holy family's Nazareth home and Joseph's carpentry/masonry shop. My favorite restaurant is in between them.

Most of the world's two billion Christians would count it a once-in-a-lifetime blessing to visit these holy sites. But for those of us who live and have lived for generations in this part of the world, these places become very familiar — perhaps even too familiar — which can work against healthy Christian spirituality. In our daily lives as Christian inhabitants of Nazareth, living close to the sites that witnessed so many meaningful events goes unnoticed. They become ancient, taken-for-granted monuments.

But there is another complicating factor here. Starting around November and lasting through Easter and Holy Week in the spring, Christian pilgrims by the multitudes are escorted through the top sites from the life of Christ and the early church.

These pilgrims have nary a personal encounter with the contemporary church of living stones — everyday saints who maintain the Christian witness in Nazareth, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and other communities. This further feeds the perception, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueCharity Navigator's Overhead Overhaul
Subscriber Access Only
Charity Navigator's Overhead Overhaul
New charity guidelines put ‘support expenses’ in a better light.
RecommendedMormons and Christians: So Close, Yet So Far Away
Mormons and Christians: So Close, Yet So Far Away
What should we make of claims that the two faiths are on a path to reconciling?
TrendingOld Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Editor's PickTen Christian Athletes Who Were Tebowing Before Tebow
Ten Christian Athletes Who Were Tebowing Before Tebow
Christian sports stars have a long history of using their public platform to display their private faith.
Christianity Today
Is Life Worth Living Before Death?
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

January 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.