It has been an absolutely wonderful pilgrimage and we were out and about from early morning till evening. I now need to take some time to process all the moving and challenging experiences that we have encountered.I hope to give a presentation at church in the New Year with photographs,prayers and song.
This blog was an experiment. I came up against one or two problems – some unexpected. For example when I tried to log onto wordpress I found that it appeared in Hebrew with writing oriented from right to left! However I have managed to post each day and to upload some photographs.
Don’t forget to click on the small box with three lines next to the blog title to see some photographs not embedded in the main pages.
As I close this blog, I’ll add a quote from the book Living Jesus by John Pritchard.
Here was a man who had no PR machine,no shadowy ‘advisers’, no lap-top, email,or internet. He wrote no book, syndicated no newspaper articles, had no social networking site. He spoke to no more people in his lifetime than would fill the football stadium of a team in the lower reaches of the Championship. But he has changed the world more than any person has ever done,and he touches the imagination of more people today that ever before.
We spent today in Jerusalem. Jerusalem means ‘City of Peace’.
We remembered the last week of Jesus’ life,his crucifixion and resurrection.
In Jerusalem in Jesus’ times there were crowds, pilgrims, soldiers and skirmishes. It is just the same today and we witnessed some unrest this morning in the vicinity of Temple Mount.I expect reports may have been on BBC news. Thankfully we were safe but some people have to live with the danger of unrest as a daily reality.We pray for the peace of
Early this morning I was chatting to a man who comes to work here. He travels from Bethlehem each day. He gets up at 4AM as on some days it can take up to two hours to get through the check points. He is lucky to have a permit. For many people this would be an impossibility.
This afternoon we visited Ein Karem. This is thought to be the place where Elizabeth lived, mother of John the Baptist. We visited two churches.The first was the Church of St. John the Baptist, where I prayed for the congregation and work of the community of St John the Baptist in Atherton.The second was the Church of the Visitation. This celebrates the visit of Mary,a young 14 year old girl to her older cousin Elizabeth. Mary the Mother of
Jesus and Elizabeth the mother of John. In the courtyard is a lovely sculpture of Mary and Elizabeth.Two spirit filled women celebrate the action of God in each others’ lives. Behind the sculpture the Magnificat is displayed in 60 plus different languages. It was such a peaceful place in beautiful hill country. We ended our visit by singing the lovely hymn ‘Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord’,words based on the Magnificat.
Hello Little Disciples,Explorers,Children’s Church, Sunday School and all!
Just a short post tonight as I am a very tired pilgrim!!!
Today we visited (and floated) in the Dead Sea. It’s the lowest and saltiest place on earth,nearly 400 metres below sea level. The River Jordan flows into it and because more water evaporates from it than flows into it – it has lots and lots of salt. It is so salty that no animals can live in it.That’s why it’s called the DEAD SEA. You won’t see any fish in it!
The salty water means that it is very very easy to float in it -you bob around on the surface like a cork!
We also visited Qumran,the place where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in caves between 1947 and 1956 ,the first one by a young shepherd boy looking after his sheep.They are bible texts which are believed to belong to the Essenes,a religious group who lived in Jesus’ time.
Back in Jerusalem this evening we listened to a very moving and challenging talk about the children of Gaza and the tremendous difficulties experienced there.I hope to be able to tell you more about this when I return.
I wonder if anyone from Little Disciples,Explorers,Children’s Church or Sunday School would like to ask Bishop Chris a question about the
Holy Land or about our pilgrimage?
Today I asked him what had been the highlights of the pilgrimage so far.He mentioned two places that he had never visited before.
The first was a synagogue church in Nazareth which had been built on the site of the synagogue which was there when Jesus was growing up.It reminded him that Jesus came to bring good news for all just as the Old Testament prophets had said would happen.
The second was seeing the wilderness road from Jericho to Jerusalem with the deep shady valley,rocky dusty environment and danger ever present.That was where we recited together Psalm 23 with the words ‘ Though I walk through the valley of deepest darkness I will fear no evil for
Thou art with me’. ………….
I haven’t yet managed to upload the photograph of this place,which I mentioned yesterday. Coming shortly when technology cooperates!
AND NOW FOR TODAY
Bethlehem! It’s a distance of 5 miles or so.The place where the gospels tell us that Jesus was born.The place where shepherds and wise men came to visit Mary’s newborn son.
Getting there meant going through a military checkpoint.It was very simple for us to pass through and return again but for Palestinians living in Bethlehem it is a different matter entirely.Coming to Jerusalem from Bethlehem is a very difficult procedure for them.It involves applying to Israeli security for a permit often with little hope of success.Thousands queue each day to pass through the checkpoints.The checkpoints are linked by the security wall -the most striking symbol of the occupation of the West Bank. In many places it is 8 metres high and made out of concrete. Visiting Jerusalem is a rare exception for many Palestinian Christians and Muslims who live in the occupied territories.
We pray for the day when walls will no longer divide , and for peace and reconciliation for all who live here.
Hello everyone. What a long but really lovely day it has been.
This first bit is for Little Disciples,Explorers,Children’s Church and
Sunday School. Today we had our lunch in Jericho and then we travelled along the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. Can you remember the name of the parable that Jesus told, that was set on that road? The G— S——–. I’m sure you’ll know ; Little Disciples have definitely heard the story and made a picture which is up on the display board. Today I took some photographs of the road – it is very rocky,dry and dusty with nothing growing there.It’s almost like a moonscape. I have some pictures on my camera which I shall print and put them on the display board next to your picture.It’s difficult to imagine just how desolate it is.
And now, more about today .We left Galilee this morning and we journeyed south towards Jericho down the valley of the River Jordan.The land along the way is desert -very rocky and dusty. Water is taken from the Jordan river to help grow vegetables and fruit. When you see the crops amidst the dry dusty wilderness it’s a reminder that water is essential for life.
Water has a great spiritual significance in the Bible particularly at our baptism. Today we stopped at Qaser el yahud a place on the River Jordan where it is thought Jesus was baptised by John. We renewed our baptismal promises and the sign of the cross was made on our foreheads with water from the Jordan. It was a very special moment.
The road that we took from Galilee south wards went through land which is known as the West Bank. This is land on the west Bank of the Jordan river that was occupied by Israel following the 1967 war. Prior to that it had been Palestine under the control of the Jordanian authorities.Under a two state solution to the land conflict this would become Palestine.One of the biggest obstacles to the peace process are the Israeli settlements which are being built on occupied territory.
After leaving Jericho we journeyed on to Bethany, the place where Mary,Martha and Lazarus lived. Two miles onwards from Bethany brought us to Jerusalem,and what an amazing city it is. At 6pm this evening our pilgrimage party held a Eucharist in St George’s cathedral. It was a very special moment for me as I had been asked to deacon which felt a great privilege for which I’m very thankful. Another member of our party played the organ and we finished up with the hymns ‘Jerusalem the Golden’ and….’And did those feet in ancient times’-which were sung with gusto.
What a wonderful day……now for an early night!