In the last fortnight, from 24th – 29th Nov, this year’s CEMES (Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme) interns for the Diocese in Europe were on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
The pilgrimage was a result of the vision and hard work of the Director of Ordinands for the Diocese in Europe, Revd Canon William Gulliford, who says ‘I know what impact the opportunity to visit Jerusalem as a young man made to me, and how it affected the path of my own ministry. I wanted these young people to have a similar privilege. It is an important way that the church can invest in the future.’
Coming out of their pilgrimage, a photographic journal of their time has been produced, which is offered below. A short report on the pilgrimage from Dr Clare Amos, a CEMES mentor, is available on the diocesan website HERE.
PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNAL OF THE 2017 CEMES STUDY PILGRIMAGE TO JERUSALEM
Tour of the West Bank, Visit to Bethlehem, Visit to Synagogue and Jewish Families for Shabbat Evening Meal
On the first morning we had a tour of the different communities straddling the 1967 Green line with a former Israeli soldier who now leads study tours of the occupied territories. The view above is of a Palestinian refugee camp just next to the Mt of Olives, rubbish is strewn down the mountainside as the City of Jerusalem provides no normal street services in the Camp.
The Wilderness, Masada, the Dead Sea, Qumran, En Gedi, Jericho
The Holy Sepulchre, the Greek Patriarchate, St George’s Anglican Cathedral, the Russian Orthodox Monastery of St Mary Magdalene, the Mt of Olives
The Dome of the Rock, the Tunnel along the Western Wall, Yad Vashem and an evening visit to the Student Year programme at the Abbey of the Dormition
The River Jordan, Lake Galilee, to include St Peter’s Primacy, Capernaum the Mt of Beatitudes, Tabgha and Safed
Abu Gosh – Emmaus, the Crusader Church run by French Benedictines
These are beautiful pictures from a pilgrimage which clearly had a deep impact on those who went, an impact they are only just beginning to realize. You need only read their comments on the website article.
But this reflection from one intern is perhaps something to dwell on in Advent:
‘The patriarch [of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilus] put a provocative question to our group: he asked us to consider what we had come to Jerusalem to see. In my mind I ran through a list of sites that I had come to see: Gethsemane, the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall. After a moment of silence he quietly commented, “I hope that you have not come to Jerusalem to see places. I hope you have come to see people. Israel is not the Holy Land, it is the Land of the Holy One. I pray that you see God’s light.”
I felt that some light had broken through. Too many pilgrims like myself visit Jerusalem for the places, for the Land. In so doing, we miss the people. We miss the face of Christ, who is so often best seen in our neighbors.
Before we left His Beatitude Theophilus, we asked how we could pray for him. “Pray for enlightenment,” he said.
This is what Advent is about: Christ came for our enlightenment. He came that the people who walked in darkness would see a great light, he came to shine light on those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death (Isaiah 9:2).
If there is one thought I can offer from my pilgrimage, it is this thought from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.” Advent reminds us – in our troubles, imperfections, and sorrows – to expect God. It teaches us to expect God, whom we so often experience as absent… it teaches us to expect God to be revealed. Jesus came as Immanuel, God with us. This was nothing new. Immanuel reveals what has always been true about God: that God has always been coming to us and has always been among us and truly does remain with us always.’
Even so come, Lord Jesus.