November 29 – December 10, 2021
Led by The Rev. Jamie Pahl and Frances Penick
Dear St. Michael’s Family and Friends,
We are so excited to bring you an opportunity to experience the Holy Land especially during the season of Advent! Even though we traveled on separate pilgrimages a year apart, what we experienced was transformational for each of us. Vibrant technicolor replaced the black and white pages of read scripture as we walked in the footsteps of Jesus. Stories about this biblical man, the Son of God, of where he lived and ministered suddenly became very real, very personal, and very spiritual, reaching deep inside our hearts. It is our hope that you will experience the same inspirational awe and connection to God’s Word through your pilgrimage with us. Indeed, the tangible presence of God in this Holy Land is profound and lifechanging.
We will be supported as we travel by a Christian tour company that is the preferred partner of the Diocese of Jerusalem, and we will be staying entirely in Christian-run pilgrim houses and hotels. Also, we will be accompanied at all times by both a Christian guide and bus driver who live in the Holy Land.
We hope you will prayerfully consider joining us on this once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage. As the beloved Christmas carol declares, “Joy to the World, The Lord has Come!”, may we too rejoice as we confirm our faith on the very land designated by God for Joy to come to us!
- All airport departure & passenger taxes
- Hotel Accommodations
- Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
- Entrance fees & local government taxes
- English speaking guides throughout tour
- Modern air-conditioned tour buses
- Single room supplement
- Travel insurance
- Any items of a personal nature
Day 1: Monday, November 29
We meet at RDU airport for our morning flight to New York’s JFK airport, where we will have time to purchase lunch as we change planes. Mid afternoon, we board our flight to Tel Aviv. Dinner will be served on board.
Day 2: Tuesday, November 30
We land in Tel Aviv late morning where we will be met on arrival and driven north to the Galilee breaking for lunch en route. After lunch we drive to the summit of Mount Tabor, believed by many to be the site of the Transfiguration. Finally we continue to our lakeside guest house and check in. This will be our home for the next three nights. Dinner and overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 3: Wednesday, December 1
After breakfast we begin our pilgrimage by driving up to Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up to visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, the traditional site of Mary’s Well and the Synagogue Church. We then continue to the village of Cana, the site of Jesus’ first sign according to St John before breaking for lunch. In the afternoon we will visit another recently excavated site, Sepphoris, biblical Zippori, believed to be the birthplace of Mary and it is quite possible that Joseph met Mary whilst working here. Sepphoris was a major Roman and Byzantine city with paved colonnaded streets, grand villas, synagogues and churches. We will return to our guest house in time to relax before dinner.
Day 4: Thursday, December 2
Our day will be spent by the Sea of Galilee visiting the sites associated with Jesus’ ministry of miracles and teaching set around the lake. We shall visit the Mount of Beatitudes, the ruins of Capernaum, the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, and the Church of Peter’s Primacy. We will have the chance to experience our own boat ride on the lake, as well as seeing the First Century fishing boat discovered towards the end of the last century. We end our day with a visit to the recently excavated site of Magdala, the home town of Jesus’ friend, Mary Magdalene, before finally returning to our guest house in good time for before dinner. Overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 5: Friday, December 3
After an early breakfast, we visit the major city of Haifa, beautifully positioned on the Mediterranean coast. We will visit the site of Mount Carmel, and have a chance to view the spectacular Bahai gardens, before beginning our journey south. We will stop at the fascinating ruins of ancient Megiddo (biblical Armageddon) before heading on to Caesarea Maritima, one of the major Roman cities of the region, and the site of several significant events in the Acts of the Apostles. At the end of the afternoon, we drive to Bethlehem, where we will spend the next two nights.
Day 6: Saturday, December 4
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 also visit a remarkable Christian institution endeavoring to bring something of the abundant life promised in the gospel to those living under the restrictions of the Occupation - the St Vincent Creche/Orphanage. The only facility of its kind in the West Bank, it offers Christian love and compassion to over forty abandoned babies and infants. After lunch we will visit the remains of Herod’s palace at nearby Herodium, dramatically set with breathtaking views across to Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
Day 7: Sunday, December 5
Leaving Bethlehem, we head to Jerusalem and St George’s Cathedral, the mother church of the Episcopal Diocese, where we join the local community for a celebration of the Eucharist. We hope to spend some time with the Archbishop and/or Dean to learn about their ministries the city and diocese. Leaving the cathedral we drive down to the Jordan Valley to the Jordan River, where we will renew our Baptismal Covenant. After lunch in nearby Jericho we will visit Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, before ending our day with the opportunity of floating in the unique waters of the Dead Sea.
Day 8: Monday, December 6
Our day starts with a visit to Hebron, to visit the Tombs of the Patriarchs, which represent the roots of the three great Abrahamic faiths. Divided between mosque and synagogue, this building contains cenotaphs marking the burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We will visit both parts of the shrine, and get some sense of the impact of the Occupation on this major city. Returning to Jerusalem we visit the Israel Museum to see a vast model of Jerusalem as it was in Jesus’ lifetime. After lunch we make our way to Bethany, once a simple and poor village where Jesus often stayed with his close friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. From here we will make the circuitous journey to the Mount of Olives, seeing again the impact of the Separation Wall. We will retrace the traditional Palm Sunday route from Bethphage down to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Kidron Valley, stopping at the churches of Pater Noster and Dominus Flevit as we descend the Mount.
Day 9: Tuesday, December 7
This morning we drive north into the West Bank to Nablus, where we will get to see one of the most important ministries of the Episcopal diocese at St Luke’s Hospital, which brings high quality medical care to the people of this major city. We will also visit Jacob’s Well, an ancient religious site visited by Jesus himself on one of his journeys. After lunch, we return to Jerusalem, where we will visit the Western Wall, before closing our day on Mount Zion. Here we visit the Tomb of David as well as sites associated with the Last Supper, the falling asleep of Mary, and Peter’s betrayal of Jesus while he was held captive by the High Priest.
Day 10: Wednesday, December 8
This morning after breakfast we enter the Old City via the Dung gate and proceed to the Western Wall and if permitted ascend the Temple Mount, before making our way to the remarkable church of St. Anne, close to the Lion Gate and the start of the Via Dolorosa. We will prayerfully walk the Way of the Cross, through the narrow streets of the Old City ending in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This afternoon there will be the option of a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
Day 11: Thursday, December 9
After breakfast we will visit the Garden Tomb, a place of quiet reflection located at a site believed by some to be the location of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. We will enjoy its prayerful atmosphere, before heading west out of Jerusalem to the town of Abu Ghosh, roughly seven miles away, and since Crusader times associated with the village of Emmaus. Here we will celebrate our final Eucharist together, before returning to Jerusalem for a last afternoon of free time. Lunch will not be included today, to allow people longer to revisit favorite parts of the city, or indulge in some last-minute shopping.
Day 12: Monday, December 10
After an early breakfast, we depart for Tel Aviv Airport for our flight back to the USA. Changing planes at JFK, we hope to arrive back in Raleigh late this same night.