Our Holy Land Pilgrimage for 2020 is underway. We have 49 souls on this pilgrimage. The most I have ever had. With the Rev. Paul Kennington, my co-leader and I, we are 51 total. Most of those are from the Diocese of Olympia, but we have some from the Diocese of Texas, Oregon, and the other Washington! On our travels over I was tracking flights from seven different airports and it was amazing to watch them all, on time, and most even early. Everyone arrived in Tel Aviv as planned. We set out on January 23rd with everyone in Israel by 5:30 p.m. Then, on board our bus for a two hour drive north to the Sea of Galilee. We spend our first three nights there always. Our first full day on pilgrimage was spent in the town of Mary, Nazareth. We had our first Eucharist at Christ Church, Nazareth, but due to renovations going on there, that community is meeting in the Sisters of Nazareth Convent just next door. They graciously welcomed us to their chapel. Fr. Nael of Christ Church welcomed us, worshiped with us, and then addressed our group after our worship. Paul delivered an excellent sermon on the “danger” of this pilgrimage, or any journey, in which we might meet Jesus, and be called by him. We moved from there to the Basilica in Nazareth, devoted to Mary, and the site of her home.
After lunch we traveled to Mt. Tabor, and the site and Church of the Transfiguration.
That evening, back at Pilgerhaus, where we stay, we had our first group meeting and introduced ourselves to one another.
Our second day, we awoke to a glorious sunny day. The sunrise on the Sea of Galilee was magnificent. On this day we would travel the shores of Galilee, visiting the Church of the Multiplication,
and having our Eucharist there, on the shores of Galilee.
then to the Church of the Beatitudes, then to the ancient town of Capernaum, and then to the Church of Peter’s Primacy where it has become tradition to take your shoes off and get in to the Sea!
then a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, where we set in silence on this magnificent day, and perhaps the calmest day I have ever experienced here
and finally to the most recent excavation of the town of Magdala, home of Mary Magdalene. Here we were fortunate to see the champion of this site, Fr. Desmond Kerry, who spoke to us in one of my favorite chapels in the world.
I end with a reflection we always share while on the boat.
There are two seas in Palestine.
One is fresh, and fish are in it. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters.
The River Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills. So it laughs in the sunshine. And men build their houses near to it, and birds their nests; and every kind of life is happier because it is there.
The River Jordan flows on out into another sea. Here there is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no children’s laughter. Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business. The air hangs heavy above its water, and neither man nor beast nor fowl will drink.
What makes this mighty difference in these neighbor seas? Not the River Jordan. It empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which they lie; not in the country round about.
This is the difference.
The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows into it another drop flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure. The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.
The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. This other sea gives nothing. It is named Dead.
There are two kinds of people in this world. There are two seas in Palestine. (Bruce Barton)