The curate of St Mary’s Church, Alverstoke has been on a pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine
I have just got back from an amazing week in the Holy Land, with some of the clergy from this area.
The main thing I’ve brought home about our visit to Israel and Palestine is that it really brings the Bible to life in technicolour!
It provides an extra dimension to Bible stories to be able to see where Jesus walked, where he died, and where he rose again.
I’ve been reading these stories since I was a child. But it really puts flesh on the bones to get an idea of the geography of places like Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and Galilee.
For instance, we walked what is called the Way of the Cross in the old walled city of Jerusalem. It’s these lanes along which Jesus carried his own cross, before he was crucified outside the city.
Seeing how narrow and how busy those streets are now was really interesting. Some people might have been going about their normal business and just ignored this person, who seemed like an insignificant, common criminal about to be executed.
Yet here was someone who I believe is the most important person who ever lived, and whose death made it possible for us to be forgiven.
To walk in his footsteps was highly emotional, because he means so much to me.
There is a real sense of awe and wonder about hanging out in the places he hung out. It does mean that the next time I read the Bible or preach, in my mind’s eye, I’ll be visualising those places.
I’m a visual person anyway, which is why seeing these holy sites has been so important.
For instance, I can preach on how the disciples saw Jesus, after he had risen from the dead, cooking fish for their breakfast on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
Now I can describe what that must be like, because just a few days ago I was eating fish on that same beach.
I hope that there will be extra vitality about my preaching at St Mary’s, St Faith’s and St Francis Churches, Alverstoke, as a result, as I draw upon these experiences and memories.
St Mary’s Church is in Green Road, Alverstoke. Go to stmarysalverstoke.org,uk