Tour overview

THE HOLY LAND IN ADVENT

A Pilgrimage-retreat for those wanting to ponder and reflect whilst also visiting the holy sites and the present realities of the Holy Land

 Led by

The Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS & The Very Revd Lister Tonge

23rd November – 2nd December 2022

Dear Friends,

A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is an ‘experience’ and for Christians it is an experience that they will never forget. Some will have been many times and will have experienced the land of Jesus in new ways each time. For most Christians it is easier to walk their faith than talk their faith and pilgrimage is as old as Christianity itself.

We invite you to join with us and a group of other pilgrims to visit the biblical sites associated with the life of Jesus. It has an amazing way of bringing the Bible to life as we see, smell, and taste the wonders of the Holy Land and feel drawn more closely to Jesus and all that he did for us.

We shall visit Bethlehem in Palestine where they will be preparing to celebrate Christmas. We shall visit Jerusalem and sites associated with the Passion of Jesus and we shall stay in Galilee by the lake and visit the surrounding area where Jesus lived and exercised his ministry of teaching and healing. During the pilgrimage we shall celebrate the Eucharist in places associated with the life of Jesus. We shall renew our baptism promises at the River Jordan and there will also be time to relax and pray, to have space for personal reflection, to become both pilgrims and friends and to enjoy the local food and do some shopping.

A pilgrimage is not just an historic visit but a cultural experience as well and we shall be reminded of the challenges faced by the people today and how the land is shared by Jews, Muslims, and Christians. We shall be travelling with Lightline Pilgrimages, the ‘official and preferred’ pilgrimage partner of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem. We shall visit some Christian charities to see the work they are doing with children, the young and the sick and we shall share in Sunday worship at George’s Anglican Cathedral in Jerusalem.

The cost of the pilgrimage is not cheap, but it is all-inclusive. It includes all meals and entrance fees. The only additional cost (apart from personal spending) is that we invite a donation of £50 from each person so that we can give a group gift to the Christian charities we visit, and which rely heavily on such donations.

We hope that you will join us in November-December for a time of pilgrimage, prayer and reflection and find your faith both enriched and blessed.

+ Dominic Walker OGS and Lister Tonge

Included

  • Scheduled flights on British Airways from London Heathrow
  • All airport departure & passenger taxes (UK & Israel)
  • 9 nights accommodation at selected hotels
  • All entrance fees and local government taxes
  • All Gratuities to guides, drivers, hotel and restaurant staff
  • All touring in modern air-conditioned tourist coaches

Not Included

  • Single room price per person £2990
  • Any items of a personal nature (laundry & drinks etc)
  • Travel insurance

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Day 1, Wednesday 23 November

We gather at London Heathrow Airport to join a morning flight to Tel Aviv. On arrival we will be met by our guide and then driven to Bethlehem and our hotel in Manger Square. After checking in we will visit the Church of the Holy Nativity, before dining together in Bethlehem.

Day 2, Thursday 24 November

Today will be devoted to discovering more about Incarnation and the gift of life in all its abundance. We will begin with an early visit to the Shepherds’ Fields and then to a remarkable institution run by the Christian community of the ‘little town - St Vincent Creche/Orphange - the only facility of its kind in the West Bank offering Christian love and compassion to over forty abandoned babies and small children. We then continue to the Bethlehem University for lunch and a tour of this amazing academy. We finally revisit the Church of the Nativity before returning to our hotel in good time for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 3, Friday 25 November

Leaving Bethlehem after breakfast we drive through the separation wall and proceed to visit the Israel museum in West Jerusalem to view the detailed model of Jerusalem based around the time of Jesus and the Shrine of the Book to see the fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls. After a break for lunch, we drive up to the summit of the Mount of Olives where we will stop for a breathtaking view of Jerusalem and the old walled city with its magnificent medieval walls. We then follow the traditional Palm Sunday procession. From there we will continue to the Pater Noster Convent, before walking down the Mount of Olives to visit the Church of Dominus Flevit, which commemorates the site where Jesus wept over the destruction of Jerusalem, the Church of All Nations and the Garden of Gethsemane. Finally, we make our way to the Old City and check-in to our hotel which is situated within the city walls. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.

Day 4, Saturday 26 November

We will begin our day by driving to Mount Zion to visit sites associated with the Last Supper, the Day of Pentecost, and the falling asleep of Mary, before finishing our morning at the church of St Peter in Gallicantu and recalling Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. We will also view the recently excavated steps that lead to the Old City and are possibly the very steps that Jesus would have climbed. After a break for an early lunch we will re-enter the Old City via St Stephen’s Gate and walk up 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. Here we will celebrate the Eucharist, 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. Return to our hotel in good time to freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.

Day 5, Sunday 27 November

This morning we begin our day by driving to St George’s Cathedral to join members of the local Christian community for Sunday morning worship. Late morning a visit to the Dead Sea. Leaving Jerusalem we drive down to shores of the Dead Sea basin, the lowest point on the earth’s surface to visit Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. We then continue south to Mount Masada which we ascend by cable-car. After descending Masada we will have an opportunity to bathe in the unique mineral-laden waters of the Dead Sea before returning to Jerusalem and our hotel in good time dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.

Day 6, Monday 28 November

After an early breakfast we drive to the Dung Gate and proceed through to the Western Wall, a section of the original retaining wall of the second temple which is the holiest site in Judaism. If we are permitted we will ascend the Temple Mount to view the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque. Late morning we combine the depth of religious history of the Holy Land with a clear indication of the modern day political problems by visiting the city of Hebron with its Tombs of the Patriarchs and seeing how the Old City centre has been divided and impoverished by the Occupation. We will be able to enter both the mosque and the synagogue. After a break for lunch we visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum and Park. We then bring our day to a close by visiting the village of Ein Karem, believed to have been the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth and thus the site of the birth of John the Baptist and of the encounter between Elizabeth and Mary, when Magnificat was first sung. Return to our Jerusalem hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.

Day 7, Tuesday 29 November

Today we make our way to Galilee. After breakfast we drive down through the hills of the Judean Wilderness to the Jordan valley and visit the ancient oasis city of Jericho, the City of Palms to view from a distance the Mount of Temptation. We then continue to Qasr al Yehud, the baptismal site on the River Jordan, near the place where John baptised Jesus and where we will have an opportunity to renew our baptismal vows. Leaving the Jordan Valley we drive up into the hills of Samaria to visit Sebaste (Sebastia), a city destroyed by Alexander the Great. After a traditional Palestinian lunch, we visit the Greek Orthodox Church in Nablus which houses Jacob’s Well, where the Fourth Gospel tells us of Jesus’ encounter with the woman drawing water. We then continue to lake shores of the Sea of Galilee and rive around the lake to our hotel and check-in. Dinner and overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.

Day 8, Wednesday 30 November

We begin our pilgrimage by driving across the green and fertile plains of Jezreel (the biblical scene of Armageddon) to visit the Basilica of the Transfiguration of Jesus before Peter, James and John on the summit of Mount Tabor. On descending Mount Tabor, we visit Nazareth, the town associated with the beginning of the gospel message, to see how the Good News is both remembered and lived out today. After a break for lunch we will visit the site of the only spring in town, where Jesus’ mother will have drawn water, the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Synagogue Church. Later in the afternoon we will visit Cana, the site of Jesus’ first sign and miracle where he turned water into wine, before we return to our guest house. Dinner and overnight by the Sea of Galilee.

Day 9, Thursday 1 December

Today will be devoted to a leisurely exploration of the area that was the base for Jesus’ ministry by the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. We begin our day with Eucharist on the shores of the lake at Tabgha before we visit sites associated with the call of the first disciples, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount and the excavations of the ancient fishing Village of Capernaum, known as the “Town of Jesus". We will view The House of Peter and a partially reconstructed fourth century Synagogue, foundations of which date back to the time of Jesus. After a break for lunch, we will sail on a modern-day version of the boat used for fishing at the time of Jesus and also see the remains of a similar boat which dates back to the early First Century. We will end our day with a visit to the exciting excavations at Magdala, the hometown of Jesus’ close friend and follower, Mary Magdalene. Excavations to date have revealed sections of the Port walls, a market, several homes, shops and most importantly a first century synagogue that was probably destroyed by the Romans around 67CE. We will celebrate Mass here by the Sea of Galilee, before returning to our hotel in good time to relax and freshen up before our farewell dinner.

Day 10, Friday 2 December

After breakfast we celebrate the Eucharist at Dalmanutha on the lake shore before leaving Galilee and driving to the Mediterranean shoreline and Roman and Crusader city-port of Caesarea Maritima. After a break for lunch, we proceed to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and check-in for our return flight to London.

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