Greetings from the Holy Land! Or the Land of the Holy One as many Christians here call it. A group of thirteen of us from St. Mary's are here walking in the steps of Jesus. We have joined with 29 others from England, New Zealand, and the US, for a wonderful pilgrimage with St. George's College.
We have been learning about Jesus' life and visiting the places where these events took place. We are more or less following his life from birth to death, resurrection, and ascension, though, sometimes, for convenience, we visited places out of order.
We started in Ein Kerem, where we commemorate Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth, and then went off to Bethlehem to the church where we commemorate Jesus' birth. We went down to the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized and out to the desert where the Spirit led him to fast and pray for forty days. We are currently up in Galilee, staying in Nazareth where he grew up and going out in the days to visit the places he called his disciples, taught, preached, and healed. We are exploring archeology, history, and scripture to better understand Jesus and his context.
Along with the ancient stones of history, we are meeting the Living Stones, the term used here for the local Christians, who have been following Jesus in this place for 2000 years. We met the rector of Christ Church, an Anglican/Episcopal church in Nazareth, and learned about the wonderful ministries they are doing for their church community (acolytes, youth group, vacation bible school, etc.) and for the greater community (interfaith peace and justice work). We have met with other Christians and heard their stories. Our fellow Christians are living under some difficult situations, but their faith and hope is strong and inspiring.
We are about half way through our pilgrimage. We have several more days here in the Galilee before heading back to Jerusalem.
We are holding you, the people of St. Mary's, in our prayers while we are here. Blessings on you all.