I just typed the question, “What is a pilgrimage?” into my search engine and the first thing that came up on the list of suggested sites was the American Heritage Dictionary definition of the word. That sounds like a good place to start. It has two definitions:
- A journey to a sacred place or shrine.
- A long journey or search, especially one of exalted purpose or moral significance.
The first definition seems a little more simple and straightforward, while the second seems a little more lofty. I’m going on the first kind of pilgrimage. Or, rather, the wife and I are.
Where are we going?
It’s only the ultimate vacation for a believer in Jesus Christ.
Next month, my wife and I are accompanying a few other families from our church, including our pastor and his wife, a professor from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (whose name escapes me) and a few dozen other couples and individuals from other churches for an eleven day, whirlwind tour of Athens and Corinth, Greece, several locations in Israel, to be elaborated on below, culminating in a few sights seen in Cairo, Egypt, including pyramids, camels, the Nile River and a laser light show.
A friend of mine showed me pictures of his trip with his church to Israel, and I was finally tired of not being sure exactly what I had in store for us on our trip, so I decided to transcribe the itinerary brochure provided by the travel agency. Following is what we will be taking in:
Athens/Corinth Visit November 12-14
We arrive in Athens to change planes for our continuing flight to Tel Aviv. This stop permits us to enjoy a tour of Corinth and Athens.
Tel Aviv/Caesarea, Megiddo/Haifa November 14
We begin our day visiting Caesarea on the Mediterranean Coast. This ancient port was used by Herod the Great. It was here that the first Gentile, Cornelius the Centurion, and his household were baptized. Continue to Megiddo and the Valley of Armageddon. Visit this historical military fortress that controlled the highway between Egypt and Mesopotamia. See the excavations and museum showing how this famous hill served an important function in the wars of antiquity.
Tiberias/Capernaum/Sea of Galilee Boat Ride November 15
Today we visit the region where Jesus spent most of his ministry. We visit Nazareth, and the Church of the Annunciation. Visit Tiberias, Capernaum and the Mount of Beatutudes, and enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.
Jerusalem/Bethlehem November 16-17
This morning we drive to the Kneset, Israel’s Parliament, visit the Hebrew University campus and its Shrine of the Book Museum, where the Dead Sea Scroll collection is exhibited. From there we drive across the Valley of Kidron to visit Gethsemane and the Mt. of Olives. Continuing our drive to Mt. Zion we visit Cenacle, the site of the Last Supper and King David’s Tomb. We drive to Bethlehem where we will visit the ancient Basilica of the Nativity. In addition we will see Shepherd’s Field of Boaz, the nearby Milk Grotto and manger Square.
Jerusalem November 17-19
This is our day to visit the Old City. We will take a walking tour visiting Mt. Moriah, the Dome of the Rock, where tradition holds that Abraham took Isaac to sacrifice him. We will see Al Aksa Mosque and the Western Wall, the only remaining portion of Herod’s Temple. We will pass through picturesque native bazaars and the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross from the Fortress Antonio to Calvary. We visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the famous shrines of Christendom, and conclude by visiting the Garden Tomb.
Masada November 18
Today we see the Dead Sea, Qumran and the optional tour of Masada where the Jews committed suicide rather than surrender to the Roman Army.
Eilat/Sinai/Cairo November 19-20
today we see the Biblical promise come alive. The desert is blossoming like a rose. Cross the Suez Canal and through the Delta region as we approach Cairo. See what has happened to this region since the peace treaty.
Cairo Sightseeing November 20-21
Today we begin an unforgettable experience and visit to one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. You’ll get to admire the treasures of ancient Egypt at the Egyptian Museum; see the Mohammed Ali Mosque and the beautiful panorama of the city; see the Tomb of Sadat, the martyred President of Egypt who built a bridge for peace with Israel; Sail the Nile River aboard an authentic Egyptian Felucca; ride a camel to the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, colossal monuments to the former power of Egypt. Climax your stay in Cairo by attending one of the world’s greatest Sound and Light presentations at the Pyramids on the Sahara Desert.
I keep warning our children that they’re in for nothing but Middle Eastern souvenirs for Christmas. They’re pretty bitter that they don’t get to go. But my wife keeps reminding them that a trip like this is for grownups who’ve worked for years and earned the money to make the trip. This gives them something to look forward to. I just keep reminding them that envy is a four-letter word.
I’ll be sure to post a few pictures and comments after Thanksgiving. By the way, it costs four hundred fewer dollars to fly home on Thanksgiving day than it does to fly home the day before. My wife gets the year off from Turkey prep. That’s something she’s probably thankful for.