THE HOLY LAND
Following in the Footsteps of Jesus
A 10 day Pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine
The Rev Dr Marlene Shand
United Pentecostal Church of Church of God
Come and See! And there is so much to see in Israel/Palestine today!
For centuries Christians have made the pilgrimage with pictures already in their minds, formed from stories we’ve heard thousands of times, mental pictures of things that happened in Biblical days 2000 years ago. We have all imagined the scenes: the hills, the synagogue, the city, the river, the characters, the crowds, the fields. In our mind’s eye we can also see the disciples, the very first Christians, and envisage the events which changed their lives for ever.
The main purpose of our pilgrimage is simple. It’s to hear the gospel where it was first preached, and to respond as if we had been there at the time. There may be texts we shall understand for the first time, now seen in a new light, and texts we shall never hear again without recalling memories of this visit.
We will “Come and see” and not just see but observe: it also means ‘understand’. So a major aim of our journey will be to understand what is going on between the different communities, and hearing from groups of Israelis and Palestinians trying to bridge the divide, so that when we go home we can be more effective Partners, prepared to stand alongside our Palestinian friends with words of love and truth.
I do hope you will take this opportunity. It will be a steep learning curve for some, but I promise you there will much to enjoy – the beauty of Galilee, exploring ancient sites, the Old City and ancient buildings, not to mention wonderful Palestinian hospitality and cuisine!
- Flights on Easyjet from London Luton
- All airport departure & passenger taxes (UK & Israel)
- Accommodation at Holy Land Hotel & the Nof Ginosar
- 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 £3898
- Gratuities £85
- Any items of a personal nature
- Travel insurance
Day 1, Monday 24th June
We gather at London Luton for our morning flight to Tel Aviv. On arrival we will be met and transferred to Jerusalem and our hotel situated within the Old City walls. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 2, Tuesday 25th June
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 to see the Tomb of the Patriarchs and see 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, as well as walking in the souk. We then leave Hebron and drive to Bethlehem, passing through the check-point in the vast separation wall into the town of Bethlehem where we will break for a snack lunch. The afternoon will be devoted to discovering more about the Incarnation and the gift of life in all its abundance. We will visit the Shepherds’ Fields and the Church of the Nativity. Late afternoon we leave Bethlehem, and if permitted, we will visit Herodium, one of Herod’s palaces, before proceeding back to Jerusalem and our hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 3, Wednesday 26th June
After an early breakfast we leave our hotel and drive down to Bethany, the village where Jesus enjoyed hospitality with his close friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. We then have to take a long detour around the separation wall that now divides Bethany from Bethphage on the summit of the Mount of Olives. We will stop for a short break on the summit for a breathtaking view of Jerusalem and its magnificent medieval walls. We then begin tracing Jesus’ Palm Sunday journey from Bethphage down the mountain, stopping at Dominus Flevit,Dominus Flevit, Pater Noster Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, before reaching the Garden of Gethsemane, and the profoundly moving Church of the Agony. After a break for a snack lunch we proceed to Mount Zion to visit sites associated with the Last Supper and Pentecost, before finishing our day at the church of St Peter in Gallicantu and recalling Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. We bring our day to a close at the Garden Tomb with an evening of Worship, before returning to our hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 4, Thursday 27th June
After an early breakfast we will walk to the Dung Gate to visit the Western Wall, a section of the retaining wall of Solomon’s Temple and the holiest site in Judaism. If permitted, we will ascend Mount Moriah to view the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque. We then visit the beautiful Crusader Church of St Anne’s before we walk the Way of the Cross through the Old City of Jerusalem, culminating in the extraordinary Church of the Holy Sepulchure, believed to be built over the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection. After a break for lunch we will exit the Old City via the Damascus Gate and proceed to the Garden Tomb. We finally proceed to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum and Park, before, where to we will pray for the millions that lost their lives in the Nazi Holocaust. Return to our hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 5, Friday 28th June
We begin our day with a drive to the village 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 the Magnificat was first sung. We then drive on to Abu Gosh, one of the sites associated with the village of Emmaus in the gospels before breaking for lunch. We return to Jerusalem. The rest of the afternoon will be free to explore the Old City at your leisure. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem. After dinner we will have the option of visiting the Western Wall to witness Jewish families welcome in the Sabbath.
Day 6, Saturday 29th June
After an early breakfast we leave Jerusalem and drive down through the Judean Wilderness to the Jordan Valley and the oasis city of Jericho, the city of palms, to view the Mount of Temptation and the traditional Sycamore Tree. We then continue to Qasr al Yehud, the baptismal site on the River Jordan where we will have an opportunity to renew our baptism vows. Leaving the Jordan Valley we proceed up through the Samarian hills (Subject to local conditions) to visit the ruins of the ancient city of Sebastia on the outskirts 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’s 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 of St Philips in the city before proceeding to the Sea of Galilee and check-in to our hotel on the shores of the lake. Dinner and overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 7, Sunday 30th June
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 will 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 village of Capernaum. We will also 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 visit the recently excavated site of Magdala before returning to our hotel late afternoon. Dinner and overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 8, Monday 1st July
This morning we will 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. 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. After a break for lunch we will visit Cana the site of Jesus’ first sign before returning to our lakeside hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 9, Tuesday 2nd July
We leave our hotel after breakfast and drive across the Jezreel Valley (the plains of Armageddon) to Mount Tabor and continue by taxi vans to the summit to visit the Basilica of the Transfiguration. On descending Mount Tabor we visit the ruins of King Solomon’s ancient chariot city of Megiddo. We will break for an early lunch at the local kibbutz. In the afternoon we will drive on to Mount Carmel to visit the Cave of Elijah before returning to our hotel. Farewell dinner and overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 10, Wednesday 3rd July
We leave Galilee and head in a south westerly direction to visit the ancient port-city of Caesarea Maritima, once the capital of Palestine for almost 600 years. The city, built by Herod the Great, was a seaport and comprised of a great artificial harbour enclosed by two massive stone breakwaters, a Herodian aqueduct and a theatre seating 4,000 people bearing the name Pontius Pilate on an inscribed plaque. Both Paul and Peter visited Caesarea and Philip made his home here. For Christians it is a place of great significance as it was here that Peter baptised the first Gentile, Cornelius the Roman Centurion. After a break for a snack lunch and our last act of worship we will proceed to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport and check-in for our return flight home.