01 Feb Vicars’ Blog February 2020 – In the Footsteps of Jesus….
Posted at 06:00h in Vicars' Blog
We have recently returned from Pilgrimage in Israel and have so many sights and experiences to share with you. It was a moving experience to walk in the footsteps of our Lord, Jesus. Seeing Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, with the dominating city walls, and walking the route he would have taken at the Triumphal entry on the donkey, it felt like time had stood still. Seeing the garden of Gethsemane and walking the way of suffering, the “Via Dolorosa”, was so moving and yet so different from how we imagined. No dusty hillsides, it is now and would have been, the narrow streets of the busy city crowded with people and stalls. A new dimension to imagining Jesus on the way to crucifixion with the full weight of the cross on his back. Golgotha itself is now the site of the church of the Holy Sepulchre It was a real privilege to see Orthodox, Ethiopian, Armenian and other Christian denominations worshipping there early on Sunday morning.
And what about Bethlehem, is it still a sleepy village? Now very built up and subject to the current political separation, it has a large wall dividing this Palestinian area from Israeli areas. We were surprised to see a huge Christmas tree in Manger Square next to the church of the Nativity. But of course, our Orthodox brothers and sisters celebrate Christmas on 6th January and Armenians after that, so Christmas was still in full swing and our rendition of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ at “Shepherd Fields” felt curiously in keeping.
There is so much more to tell of the River Jordan and Lake Galilee, of St Peter fish and the Mount of Beatitudes and so much pondering while walking in the footsteps of Jesus. We have come back changed. We sense the weight of evidence and history of our faith which we share with unnumbered Christian brothers and sisters across the years and across the world. While churches on holy sites have been destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed many times, and our brothers and sisters have suffered and died for our faith, we Christians are still here, and God is Lord. We have felt the heartbeat of God’s Son, the Prince of Peace, in a land which is so far from peaceful.
We hope to take a group of people to the Holy Land with McCabe tours maybe in February 2021. Do ask us if you are interested. In the meantime, be ready for lots of sermon illustrations from the Holy Land!