As many of you know, Deb and I will soon be going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The trip is organized by the diocese of Pennsylvania and our bishop will lead the pilgrimage. For most of the time, we will stay at St. George’s College, which is part of St. George’s Cathedral, the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem. The itinerary for the trip is a bit overwhelming. Highlights include visits to places that chart Jesus’ entire life from Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity, to Nazareth where we will tour an archeological site that may have been Jesus’ childhood home, to the Sea of Galilee where He called his disciples, to the well where He spoke to the Samaritan woman, to the temple mount where He taught, to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane, to the Via Delarosa, the path on which He carried the cross, to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which encompasses both the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and the tomb where He was raised from the dead. We will celebrate Holy Eucharist in the Judean desert, visit Jericho and the Dead Sea. We will meet with the Most Reverend Suheil Duwani, the Anglican archbishop of Jerusalem, pray with Armenian Orthodox Christians at the Armenian Cathedral of St. James, and hear talks by Christians, Muslims, and Jews about a number of historical and contemporary issues.
You can be assured that I will tell you all about this trip in various ways. I am going to be jabbering on about this for a while! As internet access allows, I intend to post updates of the pilgrimage on the church’s website, as well as probably on my personal Facebook page. And I am planning to have a presentation about the trip on February 21st at Holy Apostles. But there is much more to this trip than just information. I will be bringing the prayers of/with/for this parish and all of its members with me to the Holy Land. Deb and I will be praying for you all by name at the holiest places in the world. In case you would like us to carry a specific prayer intention with us, there will be slips of paper and a large manila envelope on the table in the office hallway. Those requests will be carried with us throughout the pilgrimage as a tangible reminder of the fact that we carry you all with us in our hearts and minds.
I am very grateful to the vestry and all of you for allowing me the opportunity to go on this pilgrimage. At my request, Nancy Haas has agreed to continue in her role as Senior Warden until I return, and I am very thankful for her. I am also thankful to members of the property committee who will be keeping an eye on the rectory. And, I am grateful to the Rev. Doris Rajagopal, the Rev. Ken Wissler, and others who will cover the liturgical and pastoral needs of the parish in my absence.