March 3-13, 2023
Our Christian tradition holds dear the practice of making pilgrimages as holy experiences of learning, conversion, and transformation, and none is more significant than walking the ways of Jesus. Both of us have found that pilgrimage experiences have profoundly shaped our ministries and our understanding of what it means to follow Christ. We are excited by this opportunity to lead a pilgrimage together, with approximately 30 members of our congregations, in the middle of next Lent.
This is designed to be different than a tour or vacation; a pilgrimage offers a very particular opportunity to engage our sacred Scriptures contextually, and to learn more about the foundational stories of our faith. The shape of this 11-day trip is contemplative and communal, drawing on the ancient wisdom of generations of Christians who have held the rhythms of worship, prayer, and life in community in this Holy Land. Those who make the trip will have a keen sense of taking their place in the long lineage of pilgrims who have traveled to the sameholy sites for two thousand years. The spirits of these faithful forebears will buoy our spirits as we make our way.
We also will engage people who call this special place home while exploring the realities of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. We will worship with our sisters and brothers in Christ in Nazareth and Jerusalem at Episcopal churches, and we will celebrate the Eucharist at holy sites that bear witness to Jesus’ ministry in those same places.
To the first disciples in Galilee who were curious, or even longing for something more in their lives, Jesus says, “Come and see,” and we receive the same invitation even today, as followers of Christ. Come and see.
- All airport departure & passenger taxes
- Hotel Accommodations
- Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
- Entrance fees & local government taxes
- Modern air-conditioned tour buses
- Single room supplement
- Travel insurance
- Any item of a personal nature
Day 1: FRIDAY, MARCH 3
We meet in the late afternoon at Seattle Airport for our evening flight to Istanbul. Dinner will be served on board, and we hope to get a good night’s sleep as we cross the Atlantic.
Day 2: SATURDAY, MARCH 4
We land in Istanbul the following afternoon, and have a brief layover before our short flight on to Tel Aviv. On arrival, we will drive to our beautiful pilgrim guest house on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, which will be our home for the next three nights.
Day 3: SUNDAY, MARCH 5
Our pilgrimage begins in the town in which the Good News itself began – Nazareth. We will join the local Episcopal community for its Sunday Eucharist, before visiting the Basilica of the Annunciation. After a break for lunch we will visit nearby Cana of Galilee, where Jesus performed his first sign and changed water into wine at the wedding feast. Our day will end with a visit to Mount Tabor, believed by many to be the site of the Transfiguration. We will return to the Pilgerhaus in good time to rest and freshen up before dinner.
Day 4: MONDAY, MARCH 6
Today we will devote ourselves to the events of Jesus’ ministry of healing and teaching around the home he chose in Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee. We will visit Capernaum itself, as well as sites associated with the Beatitudes, the commissioning of Peter, and the feeding of the Five Thousand. We will go out in a boat on the lake, and we will visit the newly-excavated First Century synagogue in Magdala, the home town of ‘the apostle to the apostles’, Mary Magdalene.
Day 5: tuesday, march 7
Leaving the beauty and tranquility of the Galilee, we will journey through the heart of the West Bank to the major Palestinian city of Nablus. We will see the work of St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, providing significant specialist medical care in the heart of the city, and visit Jacob’s Well, which was already a place of pilgrimage in the time of Jesus. After lunch we come to the Jordan River to renew our Baptismal Covenant, before coming to the ‘little town’ of Bethlehem, situated behind the 27 foot high Separation Wall, where we will sleep for the next two nights.
Day 6: wednesday, march 8
During the morning we will visit the Church of the Nativity, the oldest church in Christendom, and the nearby Shepherds Fields at Beit Sahour. We will spend the afternoon visiting two remarkable Christian institutions endeavouring to bring something of the abundant life promised in the gospel to those living under the restrictions of the Occupation. We hope to visit the St Vincent Creche/ Orphanage - the only facility of its kind in the West Bank, offering Christian love and compassion to over forty abandoned babies and small children and Bethlehem University, the first university established in the West Bank.
Day 7: thursday, march 9
We rise early for breakfast and to check out of our hotel in Bethlehem, to head to one of the most famous sites in the world – the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where we will view the outsides of the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque. From here we will head onwards to the Mount of Olives visiting the churches which celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, the giving of the Lord’s Prayer and Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Finally we come to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of the Agony, where we recall Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. After a break for lunch, we visit Mount Zion, to see the Dormition Abbey and the Cenacle, before picking up the story of Jesus’ arrest at the poignant church of St Peter in Gallicantu, where it is believed he was held in prison for the last night of his life.
Day 8: Friday, march 10
We begin our day with a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in West Jerusalem, after which we visit the nearby Israel Museum, which boasts a vast model of Jerusalem as it was at the time of Jesus. We will also be able to visit the adjacent Shrine of the Book, which is a fascinating display about the Dead Sea Scrolls. After lunch, we return to the Old City, to walk the Way of the Cross through the winding streets of the souk which constitute the Via Dolorosa.
Day 9: saturday, march 11
Our day begins with a visit to one of the possible sites of the village of Emmaus, located seven miles west of Jerusalem. After celebrating the resurrection here, we descend to the Dead Sea Basin, where, after a stop for lunch, we will visit Qumran and see the place where the Scrolls were discovered by a Bedouin shepherd. Our day concludes with the opportunity to float in the unique, mineral-laden waters of the Dead Sea.
Day 10: sunday, march 12
Celebrating the first day of the week, we start our morning at St George’s Episcopal Cathedral, where we will join our sister and brother Episcoplians at worship. We also hope to spend some time with the Archbishop and/or Dean to learn about their ministries, before we have lunch. In the afternoon we will visit the synagogue of the Hadassah Hospital, to see its breathtaking windows by Marc Chagall that depict the twelve sons of Jacob. Our day draws to a close at Ein Karem, the birthplace of John the Baptist, where we will can sing ‘Magnificat’ in the place where Mary first sang her great hymn of thanksgiving.
Day 11: monday, march 13
We leave Jerusalem after an early breakfast for our mid-morning flight to Istanbul. We will have the chance to purchase lunch in the airport and in the afternoon we will board our flight onwards to Seattle, where we land in the early evening, ready to tell those around us of all we have learned and experienced in the Land of the Holy One.