An Ecumenical Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Wednesday - The Elijah Connection

How wonderful to start the day again sitting on our balcony as the sun was rising over the Sea of Galilee!

Our bus journey today took us to Mount Carmel and Elijah.

First, we went into a beautiful chapel and shared in reflections on the connections between Jesus and Elijah.  The notes are in the worship booklet.

As our prayers came to an end we lit a candle for Joan and Ron and remembered them in our prayers.  We had missed them on our pilgrimage.

We made our way to the roof top and enjoyed the stunning views down to Miggido and voer to Nazareth and down to Samaria, overlooking the Jezreel Valley, also known as the valley of Esdraelon.

Then we made our way to Haifa, the gardens of a Bahai temple, and on to Acre, an ancient Arab city, a walled crusader city.   It was wonderful exploring the dark alleys.  It was like Jerusalem without the bustle, and like Hebron without the tension.

A guide book summed it up:  Jerusalem prays, Tel Aviv plays and Haifa works.  It was an enormous industrial city, set in the busiest of modern ports, itself set in an enormous bay.

On the journey back home Richard Major treated us to a reading of the parables of Mark 4 and Luke 15 in the King James version in a broad Gloucestershire accent ... all in tribute to the Gloucestershire born William Tyndale.

Wonderful to hear the seed parables as we passed fields that were being harvested on the way back to the Capernaum area, and to be reading the parable of the lost sheep as we saw a flock of sheep being shepherded through the fields!

For me those three parables in Luke 15 go to the heart of the Gospel of Grace. 

The love of God the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep.

The love of God the seeking Woman who finds the lost coin.

The love of God the Waiting Father who welcomes back th elost son.

On arriving back in Tiberias we went for a short walk, had a small meal, and went into our final meeting where in a spirit of prayer we shared our reflections on the pilgrimage we had shared together.

It was a time once again to recall places, think of people and sense a presence as we laughed and wept together.

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