by Todd Baker
Sometimes people go on a trip and say that the trip changed their lives. That is not what I am going to say about my trip to Israel. Before I went to Israel, my faith was already very real. I already believed (and still do) that God is alive and working in the world.
Before I went on this little trip, I had no idea what to imagine while reading scripture. I read about the Sea of Galilee, but what did Jesus see as he sailed (or walked) on the Sea of Galilee?
In the Old Testament, what was the terrain like when the Israelites fought the Philistines? It is difficult to imagine what the men and women in biblical history went through without actually seeing and interacting with those places. After I trekked through the same places that major biblical figures did, the biblical text is even more real for me.
After I trekked through the same places that major biblical figures did, the biblical text is even more real for me.
The locations jump out at me and have no resemblance to a fictional work that requires only my imagination. It has become more than a Sunday School picture in my mind.
I have been in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. I’ve seen the ruins of Megiddo, one of the great chariot cities of King Solomon. I’ve traveled through the desert area where Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.
And I’ve walked the streets of Jerusalem and stood on the steps that Jesus walked up and where Peter likely did his Pentecost message. For me, the Scriptures have become a bit more alive.
For me, the Scriptures have become a bit more alive.
Each night our group would gather in our hotel and talk about the day. We reviewed Scripture and talked through our experience in Israel. We worshipped, took communion at the Garden Tomb, and walked into the Dead Sea.
My trip was more than a trip. I was able to explore my own faith and see the faith of other pilgrims from around the world.
Before we left, some people expressed fear of our safety. Their concerns were unfounded. Both Israelis and Arabs want a strong and safe tourism industry.
We were provided with a bus and a guide, a seasoned bus driver who cared for our needs and watched out for our group. You’ll be safe. Don’t worry.
I was able to explore my own faith and see the faith of other pilgrims from around the world.
The God who came to earth and walked around Israel (where I walked!) is the same God doing amazing work in our congregation. My trip did not change my life, but it did help my faith to grow and enhance my interpretations of scripture.
So I guess in some sense the trip DID change my life. It may not have been Disney World, but it was an amazing journey that I will never forget.
Another pilgrimage to Israel is being planned. If you are interested in going on a trip to Israel, please contact Dan Flynn.