By the time this newsletter is in your hands, we will be right in the middle of the twelve days of the Christmas season of the Church. We will have sung Joy to the World, decorated the trees and opened presents, made and eaten and given away yummy cookies, spent time with family and friends. While we will still be in the midst of Christmas the world will have moved on. Yet, after weeks of waiting, we still celebrate the birth of Jesus. That celebration culminates on January 6th with the celebration of Epiphany, the day when those wise people from the East came to visit Jesus.
For millennia people have traveled to Jerusalem, to the holy sites, to pay homage to their God. These wise folk were the first to visit because of Jesus and for centuries followers of Jesus have made a pilgrimage to this land we call holy. Two years ago, I was privileged enough to make such a pilgrimage. It was life changing. In fact it is not overstating the case to say it changed the trajectory my life was on. Ever since that trip, it has been my desire to lead a group of people on a trip to Israel and the West Bank. 2015 is the year for that desire to be realized.
You are invited to join me in an “eye-opening alternative tour of Israel and the West Bank” October 8–20. We will be guided by Israeli and Palestinian tour guides who will help us explore the Biblical themes of reconciliation and social justice. We will travel from the glittering gold domes and contested holy sites of Jerusalem to the stark natural beauty of the Negev’s endangered ecosystems. All the while taking a prayerful look at the religious, political and economic issues facing the region. We will meet with Jewish, Muslim and Christian people, explore the places where Jesus walked and tackle some of the difficult questions of faith in a broken world. This trip is designed for adults, however I am allowing high school students to be a part of it if they are accompanied by a parent/grandparent. The cost of the trip will be between $3,000 and $4,000.
No amount of pictures or reading of books or articles will ever replace seeing this incredibly beautiful land and meeting the strong, passionate people who live there. I encourage you to prayerfully consider taking this pilgrimage. We will have an informational meeting on January 11th between services. At that time I will share more details and have a firm cost for the trip.
Blessings to you during the remaining Christmas season and into the season of Epiphany. May you be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit and may you be inspired by the love seen in the Christ child.