Eyewitnesses and Servants of the Word
A POST-COVID PILGRIMAGE TO FIND OUR NEIGHBOUR,
INSPIRED BY THE GOSPEL OF LUKE
the Right Rev. Greg Rickel, the Very Rev. Dominic Barrington
& the Very Rev. Paul Kennington
28 September – 6 October, 2021
The last pilgrimage which Lightline operated to the Holy Land was in early March of 2020, since when Palestine and Israel have been effectively closed to foreign pilgrims and visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The medical, emotional and economic suffering we have seen across both the United States and the world as a whole have profoundly impacted the peoples of the Holy Land, and many former Lightline pilgrims have enquired anxiously abut the friends and institutions they discovered when they first went on pilgrimage, and have wanted to offer support.
This pilgrimage – led by three clergy who have long experience of leading such trips – marks the resumption of our operations in the Holy Land, and is offered particularly to those who have already made one pilgrimage to these lands and their peoples. We will not be visiting all the ‘usual’ sites and shrines typical to a first-time journey, and instead of focusing on the life of Jesus, we will concentrate on the teaching of Jesus, especially as found in his parables recorded in the Gospel of Luke.
Our itinerary aims to achieve three goals. Firstly, we are including some sites and some institutions that are not usually visited by pilgrims, and some of the people from whom we will hear are not ‘regular’ speakers to our groups. Secondly, we want to learn from friends old and new about the impact of the Coronavirus on their lives and work this past year. And thirdly, we will be offering more time for reflection and prayer in some sites than is often possible on a ‘normal’ pilgrimage.
Luke placed a high value on those he described as being ‘eyewitnesses and servants of the Word’. We hope you will be able to journey with us this fall, and grow in witness and service of the Gospel.
+Greg Rickel, Dominic Barrington & Paul Kennington
Day 1, Tuesday 28th September
Our international flight to Tel Aviv departs from London Heathrow at 08:30 am. Landing in the late afternoon at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport we board our coach for our transfer to The Magdala Hotel, situated adjacent to the Sea of Galilee, which will be our home for the next three nights.
Day 2, Wednesday 29th September
Our morning begins with a visit to Nazareth, where we will celebrate our first Eucharist at the Anglican parish church, and learn how the local community has fared during the pandemic. There will be some free time before lunch, during which those who wish can visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, and we also hope to offer the chance to see the ancient ruins in the crypt of the adjacent convent of the Sisters of Nazareth. Over lunch we will hear and learn about the current situation at Christ Episcopal School, before visiting the ruins of ancient Sepphoris. After a tour of the remains of this historic town, we return to Magdala in good time to freshen up before dinner.
Day 3, Thursday 30th September
Our morning will begin gently, with time to reflect on some of Jesus’ teachings associated with this part of the Holy Land. Before lunch we ascend the Mount of Beatitudes to celebrate the Eucharist, have lunch, and enjoy time in the beautiful gardens of this site. Our afternoon will include a boat ride as well as time to explore fully the rich archaeological discoveries of Magdala.
Day 4, Friday 1st October
Checking out of Magdala after breakfast, we will spend a day at the coast with visits to Haifa and the Crusader city of Acre. The last city held by the Crusaders, Acre is a fascinating and beautiful place to explore. We hope to connect with one of the nearby Anglican parishes as we explore this enchanting area. Mid afternoon we will leave northern Israel to journey south, and into the West Bank for the first of two nights stay in Bethlehem, close to Manger Square.
Day 5, Saturday 2nd October
Many Lightline pilgrims have visited the St Vincent Creche, and we will begin our day by getting an update on its precious work in showing Christian love to vulnerable and abandoned babies and infants, and we hope to enjoy the privilege of celebrating the Eucharist in the sisters’ chapel as we continue to journey through Luke’s teachings of Jesus. We will also visit the monastery/winery of Cremisan in nearby Beit Jala and learn something of its struggles to keep its lands intact as nearby settlements grow in size. We will also connect with another local charity to learn of its work, and have the chance of free time to visit and pray in the Church of the Nativity complex for those who wish to do so.
Day 6, Sunday 3rd October
We leave Bethlehem after breakfast to head to Jerusalem, to worship with the local Anglican community at St George’s Cathedral. We hope to spend time with the local clergy and get an update on their ministry during the pandemic, as well as connecting with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition to learn of their current work. After lunch, pilgrims will have the chance of free time, or to come on a specially arranged visit to the Armenian Quarter, and learn something of this historic Christian community and the events through which it has lived.
Day 7, Monday 4th October
Today will be spent in Ramallah, one of the most important cities in the West Bank. We will visit the thriving Anglican parish and the adjacent Vocational Training Centre, and learn of its excellent work with young people - including sharing lunch cooked by students in its hospitality school. In the afternoon we hope to visit the complex containing the tomb of President Arafat, and to finish the afternoon with a visit to the brewery at nearby Taybeh, whose beer has slaked the thirst of countless pilgrims over the years.
Day 8, Tuesday 5th October
We will spend our morning on the summit of the Mount of Olives. Our time will include a visit to the remarkable Princess Basma Centre, one of the most significant healthcare ministries of the Anglican Diocese. We will also spend time in the gardens of the Pater Noster church to reflect on Jesus’ teachings in Jerusalem, and how they help us respond to the current situation that we have seen thus far on our journey. In the afternoon we will visit the little-known Monastery of the Cross, built where it is believed the tree that provided the wood for the cross grew, and spend time here to reflect on the link between Jesus’ teachings and his Passion.
Day 9, 6th October
Our pilgrimage comes to its climax today with a visit to the Abbey of the Dormition on Mount Zion - the location at which many believe the disciples gathered after the resurrection, and experienced the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We will also return to St George’s Cathedral to celebrate a final Eucharist, and meet with members of the Archbishop’s staff, and, if possible, with the Archbishop himself. After a break for lunch we make our way to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to board our return flight to London. We land back at Heathrow Airport around 8:30pm. Before we make our way home, and live out our vocation as ‘Eyewitnesses and Servants of the Word’.