Tour overview

THE HOLY LAND IN ADVENT

A 10 day Pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine

 Led by

The Revd Doug Spenceley

5th – 14th December 2022

Dear Friend and Fellow Pilgrim,

Advent in the Holy Land, the land where the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. Not a retreat, but a pilgrimage. And what wonderful way to prepare to greet Jesus this Christmastide, as we draw close to the manger and his birth.

This beautiful land full of contrasts, where the ancient stones of what we call today Israel and Palestine bears witness to the same struggles and history as we do today

As we journey together, be prepared for:
•     an encounter with silent ancient stones, each one with a story of its own.
•     an encounter with the places where Jesus trod.
•     an encounter with the hills where Jesus played.
•     an encounter with the modern, living stones, the people of today, who bring fresh stories of current struggles. Yet somehow, in this glorious and beautiful land of contrasts, life goes on.

Come and join me as we ask questions of faith and identity, as we explore, pray, sing and relax. Whatever draws you to this place, you will not be disappointed.”

I hope and pray that you will return refreshed and renewed, with a fresh understanding of this land, and closer to answering the question “Who and where is Jesus for me today?”

May our experience be a faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And may God bless you richly

Doug Spenceley

Asst. Priest,
Emmanuel Group of Churches, Northampton

Included

  • Scheduled flights on Easyjet from London Luton Airport
  • All airport departure & passenger taxes (UK & Israel)
  • 9 nights accommodation at selected hotels
  • All entrance fees and local government taxes
  • All touring in modern air-conditioned tourist coaches

Not Included

  • Single room price per person £2895
  • Donations — Revd Spenceley has expressed his desire to support a number of Christian institutions and charities which you will encounter as you journey through the Holy Land and invites you to give £45 towards this.
  • Any items of a personal nature (laundry & drinks etc)
  • Travel insurance

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Day 1, Monday 5th December

We gather at London Luton Airport for our morning flight to Tel Aviv. On arrival we are met by our guide and then driven up to the holy city of Jerusalem and check-in to our hotel situated within the walls of the Old City. We arrive in good time to unpack and enjoy an evening meal. Overnight stay in Jerusalem

Day 2, Tuesday 6th December

This morning we begin our pilgrimage by driving up to the summit of the Mount of Olives, to trace Jesus’ Palm Sunday journey from Bethphage down the mountain, stopping at two churches on the way, before reaching the Garden of Gethsemane, and the profoundly moving Church of the Agony. After a break for lunch we drive to Mount Zion to visit sites associated with the Last Supper, the Day of Pentecost and the falling asleep of Mary, before finishing our day at the church of St Peter in Gallicantu and recalling Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. Return to our hotel in good time to relax before dinner. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.

Day 3, Wednesday 7th December

After an early breakfast we make our way to the other side of the Old City and enter via the Dung Gate to make our way to the Western Wall and if permitted ascend the Temple Mount to view up close, but not enter the Dome of the Rock and Al Aksa mosque. We exit the Temple Mount and visit the beautiful Crusader Church of St Anne’s by the Pools of Bethesda, before celebrating the Eucharist at Ecce Homo Convent. We then begin our walk along 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. The afternoon will be free to allow time to revisit favourite sites or to wander through the fascinating alleys of the Old City. In the evening after dinner we will be joined by Katia Khouri for a short talk on the work she does with the “forgotten Christians” of Gaza. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.

Day 4, Thursday 8th December

We start our day by visiting the Israel Museum to view the detailed model of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus before breaking for lunch followed by some free time to relax or we have the option of visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum. After a break for lunch we drive to 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. Continue to our Jerusalem hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in Jerusalem.

Day 5, Friday 9th December

After an early breakfast we leave Jerusalem to 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. Late morning we leave Hebron and drive down to the Dead Sea to visit Qumran , the site where the Dead Sea scrolls were found and to explore the remains of an Essene monastery where the scrolls probably originated. After a break for lunch and an opportunity to bathe in the unique mineral-laden waters of the Dead Sea we continue to Mount Masada and Herod’s stepped palace complex which we ascend by cable-car. Late afternoon we drive back along the shores of the Dead Sea and on up towards Jerusalem, and continue through the checkpoint in the nine-metre high separation wall into Bethlehem. Proceed to check-in to our Bethlehem hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in Bethlehem.

Day 6, Saturday 10th December

Today will be devoted to discovering more about Incarnation and the gift of life in all its abundance. We will visit the Shepherds’ Fields where we will celebrate the Eucharist, then on to the Church of the Nativity, as well as some remarkable institutions run by the Christian community of the ‘little town’, including the Holy Family Hospital, which provides western standard neo-natal care and the International Centre Bethlehem Dar al Kalima college which were founded by The Revd Dr Mitri Raheb, pastor of the Christmas Church where we hope to have a talk about the amazing work this institute provides. Return to our hotel in good time to relax before dinner. Overnight stay in Bethlehem.

Day 7, Sunday 11th December

This morning we leave Bethlehem and drive to East Jerusalem to attend the Eucharist at the mother church of Anglicanism in the Holy Land, St George’s Cathedral. Late morning we head north through the heart of the West Bank, noting as we drive some of the ‘facts on the ground’ about the Occupation, as we come to the city of Nablus. Here we will visit Jacob’s Well, where the Fourth Gospel tells us of Jesus’ encounter with the woman drawing water. If permitted we will visit the Samaritan’s sacrificial site on Mount Gerizim. After lunch, we will visit Taybeh, the only 100% Christian village remaining in Palestine, before making our way down to the River Jordan and the site believed to be close to where Jesus was baptised by John, where we will renew our baptism vows. We will stop for a view of the Mount of Temptation and Orthodox monastery that clings precariously to the cliff face of the mountain. After a short break for coffee in the oasis city of Jericho we drive north to the Sea of Galilee and check-in to our Guest House on the shores of the lake. Dinner and overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.

Day 8, Monday 12th December

We begin our day with an early start and drive across the Jezreel Valley (the biblical scene of Armageddon) to Mount Tabor and ascend to the summit to visit the Church of the Transfiguration. On descending Mount Tabor we will visit Nazareth, the town associated with the beginning of the gospel message. 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 visiting Sephoris, a Roman and Byzantine city still under excavation. According to tradition Mary came from this town and it is possible where Joseph may have worked as a carpenter. It was a major city between Nazareth and the port of Acre. Finally we return to our lakeside guest house in good time for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 9, Tuesday 13th 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 will visit sites associated with the call of the first disciples, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes where we will celebrate the Eucharist, the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, and the ancient fishing village of Capernaum which was at the centre of Jesus’ ministry. We will also sail on a modern-day version of the kind of boat used for fishing at the time of Jesus. We end our day with a visit to the exciting excavations at Magdala, the home town 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. Return to our hotel in good time for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 10, Wednesday 14th December

After packing our bags we will head west towards the Mediterranean and the airport, stopping enroute for a break for a snack lunch before heading on to the airport for our journey home, to tell all those whom we meet about what has happened to us on the road…

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