My friend Eran Frankel makes videos about pilgrim sites in Jerusalem. He always includes the pilgrims because he says it adds energy to the location. That is especially true in this video showing the Palm Sunday procession from a few weeks ago!

“Finding Jesus”

An Easter Sermon from a Sister Pilgrim

I haven’t said much about my pilgrimage yet. I was quite sick when I got home and am just now feeling back to normal.

One of my sister pilgrims was Rev. Heather Jepsen (First Presbyterian Church in Warrensburg, Missouri). On Easter, Heather’s sermon included a story from the day we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Like all good pilgrims, Heather was looking for Jesus.

I enjoyed reading about her experience, and the deft way she wove her sermon together. Heather published her sermon on her blog and said I could share it with all of you. I invite you to click over and enjoy!

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Pilgrimage to Israel/Palestine 2018

Tel Megiddo

Dear Friends — I am once again on pilgrimage to Israel & Palestine, what a privilege!

Our group of 29 pilgrims flew into TelAviv (from all over the country) on Monday, arriving Tuesday. Late in the evening we took our bus to Ibillin, a small town in the Galilee region. On Day One we saw: Tel Megiddo, Caesarea Maritima, Mt. Carmel, Haifa, Bahai Gardens, Acre/Akko.

I’m in the lobby of the Golden Crown Hotel in Nazareth, using the WiFi (which doesn’t work in my room) and wanted to post a few pictures. I intend to do more of a write up, but I don’t have my notes. I would get them from my room but it’s Shabbat and the elevators automatically stop at every floor, so I’ve been taking the emergency stairs which is a little creepy, as I’ve discovered where the hotel puts the unused mattresses and stuffed chairs — but that is maybe a different sort of pilgrimage story than the one you expected to read! (more…)

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The Museum of the Bible

a wonderful teaching tool or bellwether of catastrophe?

The Museum of the Bible opened in Washington, DC last November. The owner is Steve Green, who also owns Hobby Lobby. Green is a conservative Evangelical who is anti-gay and anti-choice. He appears to seek political influence and to court the press. Some of the recent press was negative because he acquired artifacts from Iraq illegally, for which he was fined.

Because of all these reasons, I wasn’t in a hurry to visit the museum. But a couple of my congregants went and were enthusiastic about their experience. As their pastor, I knew it was important for me to go. Also, I am preparing to return to Israel and Palestine in March (my first visit since I wrote Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land) and I was curious to see how the exhibits treated the land and political situation.

When cold weather closed school for a day, my husband (who’s a teacher) and I decided to draw on our steely Minnesota backbone and venture downtown. We used the website to print free timed tickets (there’s a suggested donation of $15). I would not have gone if I had to pay because I will not support Steve Green and his agenda.

The museum is big on drama, in terms of scale, lighting, and sound effects, with heavy use of films featuring Dave Stotts.  (more…)

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Congregations, Maximize Your ROI

if you love your pastor, send her away!

As I’m putting together a Holy land pilgrimage for next March, so many pastors have told me they would love to go but simply can’t afford it. I understand the reality of finances. Pastors are not highly paid (which is an understatement). Most of them do the work with a great deal of love and drive, but very little fiscal reward.

Unfortunately, when churches refuse to help their pastors go on pilgrimage, they are overlooking a great return on their investment. There are significant benefits when a church sends their pastor to the Holy Land. I wrote about my own pilgrimage experience for EerdWord in 2012, and the article is still timely: When a Pastor Becomes a Pilgrim.

In terms of investment, think of it this way — (more…)

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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)

“Christians don’t like to read about the Holy Land — they only like to argue about it” — so I was told as I wrote my book. There’s enough truth in that comment to make me wince, yet the Holy Land is so much more than a source of political argument. It’s a real place with history, customs, and people groups. A pilgrim explores this “Land of the Holy One” with her whole body — she travels dusty roads, eats olives and hummus and ice cream, lights candles at ancient shrines, plunges into holy water, drinks wine and breaks bread, touches sacred stones, and sings at sites that hold the echoes of pilgrims past.

Whether you plan to renew your passport — or want to relive a pilgrimage you made years ago — or simply want to travel via the pages of my book — I hope you’ll become a pilgrim. You’ll discover that the Holy Land is more than the setting for an argument. Becoming a pilgrim will help you read the Bible with different eyes. It may even introduce you to the incarnate One.

Available in paperback and Kindle formats at Amazon.

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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