It’s strange, but true. I’ve spent more time in Jerusalem than Jesus did – at least in the synoptic gospels. Most of you know that three of our four gospels follow the same general chronology of Jesus’ life: Matthew, Mark and Luke. A close reading of those gospels indicates that Jesus’ ministry only lasted one year. He preaches, teaches and heals in the region of Galilee for about a year, then makes his only adult trip to Jerusalem and is crucified. His only other recorded trip to Jerusalem in these synoptic gospels is for Passover and bar mitzvah in Luke 2. In John’s gospel, however, Jesus’ ministry appears to have lasted three years (as traditionally thought) because John records three different trips to Jerusalem for annual festivals. So, if the synoptics are accurate, I’ve been to Jerusalem more than Jesus has. If John is accurate, we’re about tied. Either way, it’s strange to think about…

Hey, let’s go to Jerusalem! I had planned to wait until 2019 to host the next First Baptist pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but an ‘interest list’ emerged before I could finish 2017 and get through 2018. Several people have requested a summer trip to Palestine so that ‘school schedules’ would not preclude them from participating. It will be a little warmer in the summer, but it will allow for other persons to attend. I’ve tentatively scheduled the next pilgrimage for July 16-26, 2018. If you think you might be interested in participating in this pilgrimage, I’d like to treat you to breakfast. On Sunday morning, November 19, at 8:30, we will meet in the Fellowship Hall, and I will share with you the approximate cost, itinerary, nature and theme of the pilgrimage. If you would like to attend the breakfast, please call Jenna Manning at the church office to sign up. It’s free. My treat.

As past participants can attest, this is not a hurried ‘tour’ of the Holy Land. This is an intentional pilgrimage. We will visit a limited number of holy sites each day (guided again by our very capable Claudia Borchart), you will have time for prayer and reflection at each site, receive thematic teaching in the evenings, be encouraged to grow as an individual and as a group, and be afforded generous times of rest. I hope you’ll join me for breakfast to hear about this opportunity – it’s free, and there’s no obligation. Then, I hope you make the pilgrimage with me – it’s not free, but it’s worth it.

— Jim