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A Spiritual Journey in the Footsteps of Jesus

by The Right Reverend Dean E. Wolfe on May 12, 2023

Dear Friends,
Next Tuesday, Ellen and I will lead a group of 24 people on a twelve-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  This will be the second pilgrimage we’ve led from St. Bartholomew’s and it always proves to be a deeply meaningful experience.  People will join us from across the country on this journey, a reminder of the breadth of the St. Bart’s “post-pandemic community.” We will also be joined by St. Bart’s staff members Liz Gillespie and Bailey Regan.
In Seasons of Contemplation: A Book of Midnight Meditations, L. M. Browning wrote,
“The purpose of a pilgrimage is about setting aside a long period of time in which the only focus is to be the matters of the soul... we do not need to go to the edges of the earth to learn who we are, only the edges of our self.”  
A pilgrimage is both a physical and spiritual journey and traveling in the “footsteps of Jesus” can change us in ways that are difficult to describe. A pilgrimage takes us out of our daily routines and allows us to encounter different cultures, customs, and beliefs.  It has the possibility of taking us to “the edges of our self” so that we can examine our lives and our faith from a fresh perspective. On this pilgrimage, we will meet with both Palestinians and Israelis. We will hear from Christians, Jews, and Muslims about their challenging life together on these sacred lands.
We will be the guests of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem during our time in Israel and Palestine and, while we will have the privilege of seeing the ancient archaeological stones of Israel and Palestine, we will enjoy the greater privilege of meeting and interacting with “the living stones;” our fellow believers, who have kept the Christian faith in the Middle East for more than two thousand years.
The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem is the Anglican jurisdiction for Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. It’s a part of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, and the diocesan offices are located on the grounds of St. George's Cathedral and St. George’s College in Jerusalem where we will be staying.
The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem is home to about 7,000 Anglicans worshiping within twenty-eight different congregations. It is responsible for more than thirty institutions, including hospitals, schools, clinics, rehabilitation centers, guesthouses, and retirement homes. Today, Anglicans constitute a large portion of Jerusalem's remaining Christian population.  
Archbishop Hosam E. Naoum oversees all these parishes and institutions. You may have seen him at the recent Royal Coronation in London. He was responsible for presenting the anointing oil to the Archbishop of Canterbury (made from olives from the Mount of Olives) to anoint the King and Queen.

Of course, one doesn’t need to travel all the way to Jerusalem to explore the deepest dimensions of self.  All of us have the opportunity of doing that Sunday by Sunday in the magnificent edifice we’re privileged to call our church “home.” You can have spiritual encounters on hikes in the woods or in the silence of your own apartment. Perhaps we should think of every worship experience as a small pilgrimage where we have the opportunity to do important spiritual work by going to the edge of our selves.

  • I invite you all to pray for the safe travel for our pilgrims during this time of heightened tensions in the Middle East.
  • I invite you pray for the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and for Christians, Jews, and Muslims throughout the Holy Land.
  • I invite you pray for peace, in the Middle East and throughout the world.

We embark upon a pilgrimage to encounter the Holy and to walk as soulmates for a time. May we find the Holy Spirit blesses all of our journeys as we venture deeper into ourselves and discern the path ahead.

The Right Reverend Dean E. Wolfe


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