Been there, Done it, Worn the T-shirt
…..and now we’re going back in November 2017
We thought our visit to the Holy Land in November was a one-off experience. However, the joy and enthusiasm the group showed from start to finish made us realise that we should do it again.
This visit was both a pilgrimage and a holiday. Having Fr Jonathan with us as our Chaplain made it very special, as did our guide, Professor Gershon Nerel, an expert on the history of Israel with expert biblical knowledge of both the Old and New Testaments.
Tony and I had already been to the Holy Land four times but this was the first time that we had led a group. To make sure everyone saw everything, we had a packed schedule – on the mini-bus by 8am every day, returning at 5pm sometimes 6pm. After dinner, we sometimes met with Fr Jonathan for reflection or went to a café. Everyone agreed that each day was great and looked forward to the next.
Under Fr Jonathan’s direction, we included in the itinerary, St Georges Cathedral, Jerusalem, the Anglican Church of ‘Christ Church’ in Nazareth and the Catholic Basilica of the ‘Annunciation’ also in Nazareth.
We attended Sunday morning service at ‘Christ Church’ on the feast of Christ the King led by Father Nael Abu Rahmoan, an Egyptian Anglican Priest. An American group was also there and their Chaplain and Fr Jonathan assisted in the service. Just like our Parish, coffee and biscuits were served in the hall afterwards! We then walked to the Basilica of the ‘Annunciation’ with its courtyard of mosaics of the Virgin Mary from all over the world, including Wales!
Two other churches impressed me. First, the ‘Church of Notre Dame de l’Arche de l’Alliance (Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant), built by French Nuns who continue to maintain the Church on a daily basis.
Second is the Church of Mary Magdalene. Built only two years ago, the main altar is in the shape of a Galilean boat and the ceramic tiles beneath it are like waves on which the boat seems to be sailing. Behind the altar is a large picture window overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
Some of my personal delights include:
– Greta and Maureen reconfirming their baptism in the river Jordan with Fr Jonathan conducting the ceremony – and their laughter as they both resurfaced from being fully submerged.
– A service conducted by Fr Jonathan and receiving Holy Communion in the garden of the garden tomb.
– The peace and tranquillity of the Garden of Gethsemane with communal prayers said by Fr Jonathan and our friend Gershon.
– Fr Jonathan leading a service for us on the Mount of Beatitudes, with Gershon speaking in Hebrew from his bible as we received Holy Communion. With so many groups, each praising God and singing hymns in their own language, it was a profound acknowledgement for me of the Christian faith that is practised around the whole world.
So, Tony and I are arranging another Pilgrimage to the Holy Land – 12 November to 22 November 2017. It is already booked with Twins Tours, a small Christian travel company owned by twin brothers Andre and Tony Moubarrack. Fr Jonathan has agreed to come again as our Chaplain, and Professor Gershon has also put the dates in his diary – two exceptional people, who made the Pilgrimage very special indeed.
If you’d like to join us and walk where Jesus walked, sign up on your Church notice board and we’ll be in touch soon.