Having just returned from a tour of the Holy Land with Father David Roseberry and guide Sam Makarios, it is hard to put into words the experiences we had during our 8 days and it is nearly impossible to share all our thoughts and emotions as we “walked where Jesus walked.” One of the most blessed aspects of our pilgrimage to the Holy Land has been connecting spiritually with the life of Jesus as we physically visited the places of his birth, earthly ministry, trial, crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension. It makes an enormous difference to have visited the very places mentioned in the Scriptures!
There were so many amazing experiences in this Holy Land journey. One such experience that I will long remember was when we renewed our baptisms in the river Jordan at the spot where John baptized Jesus. A young boy was baptized. While we were preparing, a young couple came up and the husband asked if we would baptize his wife. He is French and she is Brazilian. I caught this picture of a dove that flew by the woman as she came out of the water. Only God could arrange something like that.
I will be leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the same wonderful guide next year. Let me know if you’d like to join us. It will be a spiritual experience and a trip of a lifetime.
A few of the highlights of our tour included:
- being at the West Wall also known as the Wailing Wall and going on a special tour of the excavations under the wall to the earliest levels of the city from before the time of Jesus and the site of the temple Solomon built.
- Father David Roseberry and I and other priests concelebrated the Eucharist at Wadi Qelt overlooking St. George’s Monastery. The priests were given Jerusalem stoles and we concelebrated mass overlooking the ancient monastery built into the desert rocks where monks still live a life of prayer.
- visiting the cave/inn where our Savior was born.
- walking down from the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane
- standing where Jesus stood at his trial and being in the pit/cell where he spent his last night physically on earth
- watching the sun set in the desert where he was for 40 days and nights.
- experiencing a very powerful morning at church at the location of Caiphas’ house: the location where Peter denied Jesus and where Jesus was lowered into the cell where he was kept overnight before his crucifixion.
- being at Gabbatha where Jesus was tried by Pilate.
- walking the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrow).
- being at the Holy Sepulcher, a large church built over Jesus’ tomb.
- visiting the pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed a man.
- visiting the Dead Sea, Jericho, Capernaum, the Golan Heights, Caesarea Philippi, Nazareth, Mt. Carmel, Caesarea Maritima and Tel Aviv
This is the Holy Land. Time after time, day after day, events, both planned and surprising, drive the deep truth home again and again. It is all real. It all happened. And it still continues.
Yours in Christ,
Canon Jim Fosdick