On January 10th, I will be flying to Tel Aviv for a ten day tour of the Holy Land. I received a special discount for clergy, with the idea that I will organize a future tour of Israel.
I have thought about leading a tour of Israel for some time now trying to figure out when the time might be right. I attended a luncheon about touring Israel, put on by the Israeli Tourism Bureau about five years ago. They have been very good about keeping me up to date with emails. It seems, in that part of the world, there is no perfect time to visit.
With all of this in mind, I am thinking about leading a tour of Israel in May of 2011. The economy should be stronger by then and Lent and Easter Sunday will be past. I am also assuming that rates will be lower since this will be after the Holy Week rush of pilgrims.
To go to Israel and Jerusalem is truly a pilgrimage. To walk where Jesus and his disciples walked is a unique privilege. To see Galilee where Peter, Andrew, James, and John made their living will be memorable. To visit the place (maybe) where Jesus was born in Bethlehem and where the magi presented their gifts is priceless. And whatever happened to those gifts? And, of course, to enter the holy city of Jerusalem will stay with me forever. To visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher will be awesome. I will take many pictures.
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been around for years. Unfortunately, they seemingly will be around for many more years. There are Israelis who have no desire for peace. There are Palestinians who have no interest in peace. Until those political factions can be convinced that prosperity is possible only through peace, tensions will continue. Those tensions will no longer keep me away. I will leave Tel Aviv on January 20th, returning in Sacramento on January 21st.