Holy Land pilgrims back in the diocese
Welcome home to the diocesan pilgrims - 60 people from Eglingham to Snods Edge, from Wallsend to Harbottle – who visited the Holy Land this month.
The pilgrimage was led by Bishop Martin and Archdeacon Geoff with the support of Dave & Audrey Elkington, and the party visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Galilee – staying and eating as far as was possible in Palestinian Christian establishments.
Audrey says: “We visited sites associated with Jesus’ birth, ministry, death and resurrection, and were open to Jesus speaking to us today.
“We met Christians who live in Palestine today. We learned about the difficulties under which they live, about their churches, and also about their projects open to all Palestinians irrespective of faith.
“We have all been encouraged to ‘go and tell’ of what we experienced – so here are a few reflections from those who went on the pilgrimage.”
“For us, there will be two abiding memories: the outstanding quality of the fellowship amongst our companions (companions, in the original sense, i.e. those with whom one shares bread); and the simple truth of John Betjeman's words that
God was man in Palestine
And comes to us in bread and wine.”
“Please do not ask if we, Pilgrims, had a good holiday. It wasn’t a holiday, but a meeting with our Saviour as we walked with Him.”
“In a land that is full of barriers both visible and invisible there is much that one could feel a sense of hopelessness about, and yet the remnant of Christians who are still smiling in spite of their adversity are the 'living stones' that speak of hope.”
"The sheer awfulness of the dividing wall across the main road out of Bethlehem brings home so clearly the real hardship endured by the Palestinians."
“We experienced a little bit of heaven and a little bit of hell. The hell was the every day life of restrictions and conflict. The heaven for us was having the opportunity to visit and worship in the holy sites, which I will carry with me always.”
“I felt humbled by the Christian faith of people I met who witness to the living Lord
in the face of so much oppression and despair.
I encountered the risen Jesus in the people I met - the living stones rather in the stones of the past and in all of the services we shared together.”
“Sixty pilgrims set off on a journey, some were married, some were friends, and some knew each other be name only. We came back as a huge family, we cared for each other, prayed together, and learned of the political struggle the Holy Land encounters every day. We each had different ideas of what we would gain from our emotional voyage, and shared them every day. We talked, laughed, sang and cried, side by side. I know in my heart Jesus was with me, and he has returned with my unforgettable family, and will remain with us, I am sure for ever more.”
*Our picture shows the pilgrims on the Sea of Galilee
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