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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    Perspectives: Journey through the Holy Land

    Unforgettable spiritual significance and fellowship

    March 19, 2018 / By Rev. Dr. Sherri Rood, Cornerstone District

    A pilgrimage is a journey of spiritual significance. The trip to the Holy Land was significant in many ways. The places we visited spoke to our hearts and minds as we journeyed along together. I will always remember:

    • Hunching over to go through the Door of Humility at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
    • Reflecting on our baptism by the cold muddy waters of the Jordan River.
    • Staring out over the Shepherds Field, tuning our hearts to hear the voices of angels.
    • Being on a boat on the Sea of Galilee as a storm arose and crossed over us.
    • Contemplating the Beatitudes on a hill above the Sea of Galilee and then praying on the shoreline.
    • Walking in the Valley of the Doves – the footpath between Nazareth and Capernaum.
    • Praying by the ancient, gnarled olive trees at the Garden of Gethsemane.
    • Standing by the pool of Bethsaida and hearing Jesus ask, “Do you want to be made whole?”
    • The sights, sounds, and smells of the Via Dolorosa.
    • The joy of celebrating communion at the empty Garden Tomb.
    • The many people we met along the way in Bethlehem, Galilee, Jericho and Jerusalem.

    While all the places we visited were important, the real spiritual significance of the trip is that we journeyed together. Our guides, Joseph, Leo and F.J., safely led us on our journey and helped us understand the Biblical and socio-political history of the places we visited.  

    Throughout the days I watched our group care for each other. We watched out for each other and helped each other as we navigated hills and steps and narrow streets. We took turns reading scripture aloud and shared reflections on the text and the places we visited. We prayed with and for one another. We shared meals and snacks together. We sang silly songs on the bus as well as hymns that resonated in our souls. We engaged in deep conversations, but we also laughed a lot! At times there were tears. I imagine we were much like the disciples who trekked with Jesus in that holy land. We too were disciples on pilgrimage, following in the footsteps of Jesus. We were and are the church, the Body of Christ, imperfect people seeking the Savior. And we can do all these things no matter where we find ourselves.

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    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 867 local churches and 65 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."