Yardenit Baptismal Site on the Jordan River

Mark 1:9-11

“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Our second stop on our second day out was the baptismal site on the River Jordan.  Yardenit is the diminutive of Yarden. Yarden in Hebrew means Jordan or Jordan River. Yardenit, was built by Kibbutz Kinneret in 1981, and is still being run by the Kibbutz.  This site is where Jesus is believed by some to have been baptized by John the Baptist.  As with most sacred sites, no one knows for sure and there are other competing sites.  This site is impressive however.  It is peaceful and serene, and visitors are made to feel very welcome – especially in the gift shops.  There are changing rooms for those who wish to experience baptism for the first time, or for a rededication, and robes are provided.  You can purchase bottled water from the river among many other things.  I made a lot of purchases in the gift shop so that I would have gifts to bring back.

I entered the site expecting to be filled with the Holy Spirit and I left feeling deflated.  It was not the first time I would experience this feeling.   I don’t mean to sound cynical because no matter what it was an honor and a privilege to be there.  It is just simply disappointing to visualize something sacred as being sacred and then arriving only to find gift shops filled to the brim with tee shirts and key chains.  I bought some key chains, but afterwards I regretted it.  Some members of the group experienced a re-baptism, but personally I did not have any desire to do that.  Speaking strictly for myself, it seemed like an experience that you purchase much the same as an amusement park ride.  I know that it meant a lot to the ones who did it, and I do not mean to diminish or discount their feelings in any way.  We are all different and I respect that.  I am simply trying to give you my own impressions.  Regardless, I think that the overall intentions of those who run the site and those who visit it are good and pure.  We are all seeking a connection with the divine and this was one and only one of the many ways to make that connection.  I did not make it there, but I did make it elsewhere.

To see the photos, click on the album:

Yardenit Baptismal Site on the Jordan River

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