It’s almost like Christmas. The anticipation has been building for weeks. Bethlehem is on the agenda. Jesus is the reason for the season. We’ve spent a fair amount of money in preparation for the day. Our journey will take us over the river, through the woods, over the ocean, and into the desert. Next week, a new group of pilgrims will leave for the Holy Land. After two years of COVID interruption, we will finally be walking where Jesus walked again.

This year’s pilgrimage is titled The Motherland Pilgrimage. Our travelers will be experiencing the dominant sites of Jesus’ life through the eyes of the women who surrounded him. We will begin in Nazareth—the hometown of his mother, Mary. We will journey to Magdala and visit the village streets where Mary Magdalene met our Lord. In Capernaum, we will see the ruins of Peter’s mother-in-law’s home. From the Mount of Olives, we will walk the Via Dolorosa where crowds of women cried and beat their breasts as the beleaguered and beaten Jesus walked by struggling beneath his cross. In Jerusalem, we will visit the Mount Calvary and imagine Mary at the foot of the cross. From there, we will make the brief walk to the empty tomb where women were the first to witness the residuals of resurrection.

Each morning, Camille Loomis Rehnborg—our pastoral resident—will lead us in devotion and prayer. Each evening, I will share lessons and insights regarding the next day’s holy sites. During the day, we will simply walk and look and wonder and pray. Tucked between these holy moments will be plenty of time for laughter, excellent Mediterranean cuisine, floating in the Dead Sea, and periods of relaxation. If you couldn’t travel this year, I hope you’ll begin making plans to enjoy a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the future. For now, I’m asking you to commit to praying for these pilgrims as they journey. Your prayers can only add to the life-changing adventure they are about to enjoy.

—Jim

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