Holy Land Pilgrimageswith Pastor Linda
“Are you afraid?”
This is the question I was asked most often when I was preparing for my first trip to Israel. Truth is, I wasn’t. Not one bit. Years ago, when I gave Jesus my heart and my life, I asked God to direct my steps. I promised God that I would follow Jesus wherever I was led. I had no idea at the time that it would be all the way to Israel! But it was. Truthfully, I had no desire to go prior to this prayer. But God gave me the desire: “Go.”
And so, I went.
For many years, I have been studying and teaching about the Bible. As a Christian educator, ordained in the United Methodist Church, I have been blessed to lead others into the God stories that still impact our lives today. One of my seminary professors told me years ago that the Holy Land was the fifth gospel. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John only set up the story – it unfolds in Israel. It will change your life and deepen your faith to walk in the footsteps where Jesus walked. As we read his words, “Follow me,” on the rocky shore of the Sea of Galilee, the well-known story comes alive – and it becomes ours.
If you choose to join me on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I will prepare you through our classes to learn the stories that will describe the places we will see. If you don’t know the stories, come and learn them with me. You do not have to know the Bible to know Jesus, but when you know Jesus, you want to learn more about his story. Let me teach you.
We will travel with our host, an Israeli-American escort. We will arrive in Tel Aviv, meet our phenomenal guide, and drive to a kibbutz on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee. After a wonderful Mediterranean meal, we will get a good night’s sleep. For the next few days, we will explore the sites around the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus lived and taught. We will tour a vineyard with the winemaker and owner. We will then travel south towards the Dead Sea. We will visit Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. We will ride a cable car to the top of Masada, the historic palace of King Herod. And we will float in and on top of the Dead Sea.
Finally, we will travel up to Jerusalem. The excitement and anticipation will begin to grow as we enter into the Holy City. We will go to our hotel for a good night’s rest before the next leg of our journey. We will walk through the Old City, beginning in the Upper Room and then to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We will touch Mount Moriah and the rock that held the cross of Christ. We will pray in the Garden of Gethsemane and from the top of the Mount of Olives, where Jesus ascended into heaven. Along the way, we will stop to reflect on the stories within the Scriptures that unfold God’s plan to save the world.
To close the trip, we will travel to Bethlehem and see the historic church that has been built over the cave where Jesus was born. While in Palestine, we will get a sense of the tension within this holy land. Your life will be marked deeply by the sites you will see, the people you will meet, the food you will taste, the land that you will touch, and the holy moments that you will feel.
Towards the end of my first trip, as I was overlooking the city of Jerusalem, deep within my heart I heard the words, “Go to the land that I will show you.” I knew in that moment that it was God who had invited me, led me, and was showing me this land. And I knew God wanted me to bring you to see it, too.