THE HOLY LAND
A Pilgrimage through Israel & Palestine
The Revd David Gatliffe and The Revd Liz Dudley
6th – 14th September 2024
I am delighted to be inviting another group to join me on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2024. I am equally delighted to be sharing the pilgrimage with the Revd Liz Dudley, Vicar of Christchurch and St Mary’s, Frome.
We will journey through the land that is special for three of the main religions of the world. It contains powerful reminders of many of the stories with which all of us will have grown up. Whether these stories are fact, myth, or parable, their profound beauty and meaning remain as tantalising and challenging as ever.
We will see places that remind us of the ancient story of the Jewish people in their ‘promised’ land. We will see ruins that speak eloquently of the once mighty Roman and then Byzantine Empire. We will also see how modern Israel has inherited the Roman mantle of a minority governing an ethnically and religiously different majority.
We will visit places associated with Jesus during his ministry. We will also meet some of his heirs – the small but remarkable Christian communities who continue faithfully to live and worship in this overwhelmingly Islamic and Jewish land.
Some of us will be Christian, some perhaps definitely not. Whatever our starting point of belief, I am convinced that we will all be enriched by sharing this journey. It will take us deeply into the human tapestry of faith and into the eternal hope of a resurrection that offers this beautiful, troubled land – and all of us – the chance of being truly ‘holy’.
- Scheduled flights on British Airways from London Heathrow Airport
- All airport departure & passenger taxes (UK & Israel)
- 8 nights accommodation at selected hotels
- All entrance fees and local government taxes
- Qualified English speaking guide throughout the tour
- All touring in modern air-conditioned tourist coaches
- Single room price per person £3190
- Travel insurance
- Gratuities £80
- Any items of a personal nature (laundry & drinks etc)
Day 1, Friday 6th September
Journeying to the Holy Land
We gather at London Heathrow for our flight to Tel Aviv. On arrival we will be met by our guide and driven to our guest house on the shores of the Sea of Galilee for the first of three nights stay here.
Day 2, Saturday 7th September
Jesus’ Lakeside Ministry
We begin our pilgrimage by devoting our day to an exploration of the area that was the base of Jesus’ ministry by the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. We visit the sites linked to the commissioning of Peter by the Risen Christ (John 21:15-19) and the feeding of the 4000 (Mark 8). We see the excavated ruins of Capernaum where Jesus so often taught (Mark 1:21; Luke 4:31; John 6:59) and the remains of Peter’s home which became an early Christian house church. We will also sail in a modern-day version of the fishing boat used by many of the first disciples and see the remains of a similar boat dating back to the first century. Dinner and overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 3, Sunday 8th September
Nazareth, Cana & Mount Tabor
Today we begin by driving to Nazareth where we will join members of the local Anglican Community at Christ Church for Sunday worship. Late morning will visit the well where Mary will have drawn water and, according to Eastern Orthodox legend, was first greeted by the Angel Gabriel. We also visit the remains of the house where Jesus grew up. We then drive to Cana where Jesus performed his first ‘sign’ (John 2) and transformed water into wine at a Wedding Feast. After a break for lunch we drive across the valley of Jezreel (the plain of Armageddon) to Mount Tabor. This atmospheric place (particularly when cloud descends) is traditionally associated with the Transfiguration (Mark 9; Luke 9). Dinner and overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 4, Monday 9th September
An ancient route
We begin our day on the summit of the Mount of Beatitudes, the site of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) We then leave Galilee and head south through the heart of the West Bank, (This visit is subject to local conditions), noting as we drive some of the ‘facts on the ground’ about the Occupation, as we come to the remains of the ancient city of Sebastia on the outskirt of Nablus. Sebastia was destroyed by Alexander the Great. Pompey rebuilt it and Augustus bestowed it upon Herod the great in 27BC. It was here that John the Baptist decapitated body was buried. After visiting the Roman and Byzantine ruins we continue to visit Jacob’s Well (Genesis 33.20), where the Fourth Gospel (John 4.6-12) tells us of Jesus’ encounter with the woman drawing water. We also hope to visit the Anglican parish in the city and see its work with young children in its kindergarten. Leaving Nablus we continue up through the hills of the Judean Wilderness to Jerusalem. We will stop briefly on Mount Scopus for a breathtaking view of the Old City and it’s beautiful surrounding medieval walls before proceeding down to our hotel which is situated within 5 minutes walk of the Old Walled city’s Herod’s Gate. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 5, Tuesday 10th September
Bethlehem & Mt of Olives
This morning we leave Jerusalem after an early breakfast and continue through the separation wall into Bethlehem, the village in which tradition says Jesus was born. We will visit the Shepherds’ Fields and the Church of the Nativity and hopefully meet some of the Christians of the “little Town”, including two wonderful institutions: St Vincent’s Orphanage and the School of Joy. After a break for lunch we return to Jerusalem and drive to the summit of the Mount of Olives and trace Jesus’ Palm Sunday journey from Bethphage down the mountain, stopping at two churches on the way before reaching the Garden of Gethsemane and its ancient olive trees. We then return to our nearby hotel in good time to relax and freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 6, Wednesday 11th September
Hebron & Mount Zion
This morning we will combine the depth of religious history of the Holy Land with a clear indication of the modern day political problems by visiting Hebron (subject to local conditions) to see the Tomb of the Patriarchs and how the Old City centre has been divided and impoverished by the results of the Occupation. We will have the chance to enter both the mosque and the synagogue. After a break for lunch we return to Jerusalem and ascend Mount Zion to visit sites associated with the Last Supper and finishing our day at the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, built over the excavated dungeons of the High Priest’s house, where Jesus was tortured and tried and recalls Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. Return to hotel in good time to relax before dinner. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 7, Thursday 12th September
Western Wall & Taking up the Cross
This morning we make our way to the Western Wall, a section of the retaining wall of Solomon’s Temple, the holiest site in Judaism. If permitted we will ascend Mount Moriah to view the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque, the third most holy site in Islam. Late morning we walk to the remarkable church of St Anne and the Pools of Bethesda, which we will visit, before coming to the start of the Via Dolorosa and then wind our way through the narrow alleys of the Old City, following the traditional Way of the Cross, culminating in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The rest of the afternoon will be free to explore the Old City, revisit sites of special interest or we have the option of visiting Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial museum and park. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 8, Friday 13th September
The Dead Sea and Masada
This morning we leave Jerusalem after an early breakfast and drive down into the Dead Sea basin. We begin by visiting Qasr al Yehud, near Jericho on the River Jordan, near the site where John the Baptist baptised Jesus and where there will be an opportunity to retake our Baptism vows. After a short stop to view the Mount of Temptation and visit Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and visit the remains of an Essene Monastery where the scrolls may have originated. Continuing south along the shores of the Dead Sea to spend the afternoon relaxing and an opportunity to bathe in the unusual mineral laden waters of the Dead Sea. There will be an option of an excursion to the fortress of Masada, (Optional cost - £30 ) which is reached by cable car. It was on this flat-topped mountain that a large group of Jewish Partisans resisted the Romans and committed suicide rather than give up to slavery. On descending Masada we will rejoin the group by the Dead Sea and return to Jerusalem. We then have an opportunity of attending Evensong at St. George’s Anglican Cathedral, before returning to our hotel in time for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 9, Saturday 14th September
Telling what had happened on the road
After breakfast, we will check out of our hotel, and start heading west towards the airport. After seven miles we will stop at the village of Abu Ghosh, one of the sites associated with the village of Emmaus in the gospels. After a stop for lunch, we will arrive at Ben Gurion airport, to board our flight back and our journey to our own homes. And we hope that each one of us will continue to tell our friends all that has happened to us on the road…