October 15 – 27, 2018

Sacred journeys bring transformation. We return home indelibly affected by the experiences of the journey. Since returning from my first pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I experience Scripture in an entirely new way. While I was traveling the land of the Bible, walking past the valley of Gehinnom (Hell), exploring the maze-like alleys of the old city of Jerusalem and swimming in the Sea of Galilee, I felt as if I had not only traveled thousands of miles, but that I had also traveled back in time.

Not that Israel isn’t a modern country – it has all of the infrastructure, commerce and culture of a major modern, industrialized society. But juxtaposed with their modern skyscrapers, malls and museums are churches that were built during the Roman Empire, remnants of the Second Temple, some of the holiest Jewish/Muslim/Christian sites in all the world, and, my favorite, some of the best reconstructed archaeological sites. And it also has the same mountains, wadis (dry riverbeds) and wildlife that the biblical characters like Abraham, Ruth, Naomi, Ishmael, John the Baptist and St. Paul experienced. I had experienced and walked through the physical land on which God in human form walked.

When I eventually returned home a month later, I never experienced a liturgical reading from the Law, the Prophets, or the Gospels the same way again. The sights, sounds and emotions of that sacred journey still fill out the story every time, and bring me into the Word of God in a way that I could never have imagined before. What might you bring back?

All pilgrimages invite us to some form of spiritual renewal or a deeper relationship with God. However, the power of pilgrimage is that it is not just an individual experience; our communities are changed as well. We may find new spiritual community and companions on the trip itself, but pilgrims often return from their journey with a “boon” – something good that will enrich their lives in the everyday world back home. When we see the movement of God in another place, we learn to see the world and our communities anew upon our return. And our changed perspective can enrich our communities of faith and practice.

We invite you to join us for a pilgrimage to the land of Israel with others from the Diocese of Southern Ohio and Praxis Communities. The journey will include experiences in Galilee, Bethlehem, Petra, the Dead Sea, St. George Monastery, and the many sacred places in and around Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, Upper Room, Western Wall, Garden of Gethsemane and more. You will have opportunities to explore the culture and land of the biblical story and to enrich your knowledge of biblical history, geography and archeology. We will learn about Orthodox Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and explore the themes of land, covenant, exile and hope and their link to the centuries-old political unrest in the region. We will pray together, celebrate Eucharist and renew our baptismal vows in the Holy Land. We will experience the transformation that occurs through a pilgrimage experience to this sacred land.

Cost: $4,000; includes airfare, local guide, hotels, land tour, breakfast, dinners, entrance fees and tips. Registration and deposit are needed by February 15, 2018 to secure your spot on the trip. To register with a $200 refundable deposit, visit https://secure.tutkutours.com/tours/181015ISR.

Information session: Tuesday, January 16, 2018, 7 p.m. at St. Barnabas, Montgomery or join us by videoconference!

PILGRIMAGE LEADERS

JASON ODEN

Before becoming a postulant in the Diocese of Southern Ohio in 2017, Jason was a high school religion studies teacher and an adjunct professor of world religions in the local Cincinnati area. Currently, he is serving a local parish as director of Christian Formation and completing courses as a low residential seminary student at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Since 2007, Jason has regularly led both students and adults on multiple educational and pilgrimage trips to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. This will be his second time in Israel; his first experience in the Holy Land was in the summer of 2000 where he studied biblical languages, history, and geography. Email him at j3oden@gmail.com.

 THE REV. JANE GERDSEN

Jane serves as Missioner for Fresh Expressions and Praxis Communities in the Diocese of Southern Ohio, working to encourage new forms of Christian community. She is currently chair of the Episcopal Church’s Advisory Group on Church Planting and Missional Initiatives. Prior to her work with Praxis Communities, she served for five years at St. Andrew’s, Dayton. She is a wife and mother of two young children. Jane enjoys being a pilgrim and has made a variety of pilgrimages, from Taize to Scotland, and in 2015 led a pilgrimage to the UK to explore fresh expressions of church. Jane is looking forward to discovering the Holy Land and sharing in song, prayer, and reflection in these sacred places. Contact her at jgerdsen@praxiscommunities.org.

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