This 2 minute video introduces the pilgrimage, March 5-16, 2018.

It’s filling up but we still have a couple open slots. Are you the person we’re looking for?

Contact me and I’ll send the registration form which has more detailed information.

Come With Me to Israel/Palestine!

I'm excited to be co-leading a pilgrimage March 5-16, 2018

Ever since I went on a Holy Land pilgrimage and wrote a book about it, I have wanted to return to Israel/Palestine. That dream is coming true next March! 

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If you’re looking for video resources for Holy Week, either for personal use or to share with others, you may be interested in this video about the Via Dolorosa. I’ve been in correspondence with the videographer, Eran Frenkel, since 2013, and look forward to meeting him in March 2018 when I return to Jerusalem.

Not everyone is able to make a physical pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which was one of the things that compelled me to write Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land. I used words to set the scenes, share my experiences, and unpack what the pilgrimage meant for me. But if it’s possible, I encourage you to also watch images and video like these — filmed on location in Jerusalem — to add texture and immediacy to your armchair pilgrimage.

Here are links to three other videos I’ve featured in the past. If you go to The Jerusalem Experience website you will find many more videos. I’d love to hear your reactions to all of these resources, or perhaps suggestions for others!

Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land (Eerdmans, 2012)

When I was writing this book, I was warned I would never find a publisher: “Christians don’t like to read about the Holy Land — they only like to argue about it.”

The naysayer was wrong, but the truth underlying his words is a sorrow. The Holy Land is a place of historic conflict, but it is more than that. As the Church Father Jerome once said, the Holy Land is a “fifth gospel.” This gospel begs to be experienced rather than simply studied. Pilgrimage is about the verbs! A pilgrim doesn’t live solely above the neck, in the realm of facts and doctrines. A pilgrim travels dusty roads, swims in holy water, drinks wine, eats olives, lights candles and touches sacred stones. Whether you are planning to go on pilgrimage, reliving one you took years ago, or taking an armchair pilgrimage through my words, I invite you to become a pilgrim with me.

Available at Amazon.

Below is a one-minute book trailer, and below that a few paragraphs recorded in my voice.

Looking for Christ in the face of the Other

a tribute to a Muslim acquaintance

The “connectivity” of our world can bring such blessing. I received an email the other day from The Very Rev. Canon Dr. Gregory Jenks, who is the Dean of St. George’s College in Jerusalem. Perhaps you will recall that St. George’s hosted the pilgrimage which I wrote about in Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land.

The Dean wanted to let me know that one of their employees, Khalil Bassa, had recently died. Because I had included a conversation with Khalil in my book, he wondered if I would like to write a few words for their website. I was happy to do so here.

Rest in peace, Khalil.

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Virtual Pilgrim: Underneath Jerusalem’s Western Wall

Are you looking for ways to “walk with Jesus” during this season of Lent? I invite you to check out the videos produced by Eran Frenkel in Jerusalem. His most recent video takes us through the Western Wall Tunnels. This is a place I wasn’t able to see on my pilgrimage, and I so enjoyed “being there” virtually.

Visit Eran’s site — JerusalemExperience.com — to find transcription of the narrative and many more videos. You can also subscribe to Eran’s YouTube channel and share these resources with others.

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When Sanctuaries Aren’t Safe

Recently the pilgrim site at Tabgha, Israel was attacked by arsonists. Very little mention was made of this in US media. I wrote a blogpost for EerdWord, the Eerdmans blog. Thanks for reading.

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Indiscriminate Tastes

Everyone likes to eat. What do you like to eat? On Sunday I’m preaching the Acts 10 text, about Peter’s vision, and so I’m pondering food choices. In the text, Peter, a law-abiding Jew, encounters a Roman named Cornelius and dreams of a sheet filled with food that he considers to be unclean. In the dream, God tells Peter: “Get up Peter, Kill and Eat.” Understandably, Peter recoils. The action recurs three times.

It strikes me that food is not just something to think about. Food is something to partake of. Recently I’ve experienced food a bit differently from normal. I just spent ten days traveling in the UK, and I did my share of eating! I began my travels in Ayr (west coast of Scotland), as a guest, sharing meals with my host family. Then I traveled to Edinburgh where I talked about pilgrimage based on my book, and stayed at a lovely hotel, like a tourist. Then off to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne (east coast of England), to practice being a pilgrim.

All along the way, I did something I don’t usually do: I took pictures of my meals. I kept thinking, “Doug would love this!” So as a way to share the experience with my husband later, I snapped pictures. Which part of me was trying to preserve those memories — the tourist me, or the pilgrim me?

(more…)

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Pilgrim Hospitality

Pictures of the Incredible Scottish RevGals!

I have just returned from a pilgrimage to the UK where I was on the receiving end of so much hospitality! I led a 3-day conference called The Pilgrim Way for 18 clergywomen in Edinburgh, Scotland. The woman who originally envisioned this international event, and organized it, was Julie Woods. She took care of “all the things.” How inspiring to see her idea give birth to an event, years in the making! Here Julie and I are, in front of the priory ruins on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which was a follow-on from the conference.

Rev. Julie Woods, right.

Rev. Julie Woods (right) Rev. Ruth Everhart (left) on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

To back up a bit, I arrived in Scotland a few days early in order to get over jet lag, and was hosted by Liz Crumlish at her home in Ayr, on the western coast. Liz was the first Church of Scotland clergywoman to attend a RevGal Big Event cruise almost a decade ago, and it was her enthusiasm that persuaded more Scottish clergywomen to cross the pond year by year. I chose a picture of Liz laughing because she is always laughing. (more…)

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Obama Tackles Our Crusader Past

National Prayer Breakfast, February 5, 2015

President Obama delivered remarks that caused some reaction. Here are his opening paragraphs:

We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.

So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities — the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?

Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.

I am so glad the President felt able to speak his mind about these realities. After that opening, he urges faith leaders to exercise the virtue of humility. Then he reminds us of the importance of the separation of faith and government (church/state) and finally, calls all of us to the Golden Rule. Solid, forthright remarks. (The full text of his remarks is available here.)

Crusader crosses in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Crusader crosses in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Christians are too quick to forget the ugliness of our own past. The truth is that right belief can drive people to do the wrong things.

One of the realities I wrestled with during my pilgrimage to the Holy Land was the evidence of the Crusaders, which lingers in many places. The Crusaders left fingerprints on that land, quite literally, by carving crosses in stone, perhaps using the same blades that had  murdered “infidels,” Muslims and Jews. Those stone crosses are the mark of Christianity, a mark that should sober us all. I know it made me reflect on my own faith tradition.

In my book, Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land, I speak about this in a number of places, but let me share a section:

Perhaps the act of tracing my finger over the nameless Crusader crosses helped me work out this religious impulse toward high-mindedness, this passion for righteousness. But why lay that passion at the feet of the Crusaders a thousand years ago? This passion isn’t dead. Look at my own Calvinism. Our Pilgrim and Puritan forebears believed that they were a chosen people decreed to establish a shining city on a hill, and that belief shut out other beliefs, not from malice but from the desire for purity. If you’ve got something shining and pure that belongs to God, you need to safeguard it.

No wonder I was worried about coming to this Holy Land. It was an absolutely reasonable fear. Religious zeal leads to a passion for purity which leads to violence in some organic way. And that fact should terrify people of faith.  (p. 151)

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