Sunday, 29 November 2009

last year in Jerusalem

During my sabbatical last year I spent Advent in Jerusalem and Galilee and it was an experience I will never forget. As a way of letting family and friends know what I was doing I tried to keep a daily blog and I also found it a very helpful way of reflecting on the experience. The blogs from my trip can be found starting here and some of my photos here.

family I continue to think about the people I met and the places I visited and hope one day to return. I realise that during the last year the situation has continued to change: the conflict in Gaza that started just after my return to the UK; the removal of Palestinians from East Jerusalem; the ongoing settlement and infrastructure building programme and the development of the security wall / barrier are just a few of the factors impacting on the land and population. From time to time I also think about my fellow pilgrims and enjoy receiving intermittent emails from them.

A few Sundays ago the set Gospel reading was from Mastonesrk 13; Jesus speaking about the destruction of the Temple and I had a vivid recollection of touching some of the huge stones lying in a pile at the site of the Temple in the Old City. The next day several of my companions on the trip, who minister in the United States, emailed to say that they had preached on the same experience. Just a small example of the way in which the visit has brought the scriptures alive in a fresh way.

hand I brought back some small stones from different sites around the country and my favourite is from the shore of lake Galilee; nothing remarkable but the stone fits comfortably in my closed hand and is a reminder of the place and a helpful aid to prayer.

During my time in the Holy Land I spent some time reflecting on whether I was a tourist or pilgrim. A year later I realise the profound impact the place has had on me and on my faith and continue to be thankful for the opportunity I had to spend this time last year in Jerusalem.

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