Today’s Word from Pastor Jim
Pilgrimage has been a part of religious tradition and experience for thousands of years. Religious pilgrims plan, save, and travel to sacred places; to the thin places between heaven and earth. In Islam every adult is expected to make the Hajj to the holy city of Mecca at least once in their lives. The Hindu faithful travel to the River Ganges, Roman Catholics to Vatican City, Buddhists to Lumbini, Nepal. The Golden Temple in India, Notre Dame de Lourdes, Wittenberg, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City are a few of the hundreds of pilgrimage sites in the world.
Israel and the Holy City of Jerusalem have been the primary pilgrimage destination for Jews like Jesus and Christians like us. Jesus and his family made the pilgrimage from Nazareth to Jerusalem every year. Three weeks ago, I was in Jerusalem with a faithful group of TLC pilgrims. This was my 16th pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine over the past 27 years. Some 400 TLC pilgrims have joined me on this amazing journey of faith. They mused on familiar Bible stories while standing on the very ground where those stories took place.
The pilgrims are immersed in the Jordan River, but they are also immersed in a different culture, exposed to 5,000 years of human history; and finally, together they make the ascent to a city that is revered and holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians. People of faith come from every corner of the world to Jerusalem. It is a once in a lifetime pilgrimage, it is not a vacation. Having said that, the food is fantastic, the hotels are superb, there is lots of fun, laughter, and singing. The photos give you a taste of pilgrimage: a lamb around my shoulders, riding a camel on the Mount of Olives, an Orthodox Jewish father and daughter heading to the Western Wall to pray, the view of the Temple Mount from the altar of the Dominus Flevit Church, and wading into the water of the Jordan.
Tomorrow our Easter celebration will continue. What were the disciples up to on that first Easter evening? What word will God have for us tomorrow? We will make the pilgrimage down Highway 525 and gather to worship. It is an awesome privilege to share this journey of faith and doubt as God’s people at TLC. I will see you in the morning.