As John Ray started teaching on the Psalms of Ascent at Grace Church, I could only think that I was standing at the temple steps just a month ago worshiping and praising God in song. As I took a journey of a lifetime, to literally walk where Jesus walked was a profound spiritual experience. Even though I was told to expect it, I’m amazed at how the Bible now comes alive as I read and study scripture.
The tour hosts continually called us pilgrims. In A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, author Eugene Peterson says that a “pilgrim tells us we are people who spend our lives going someplace, going to God, and whose path for getting there is the way, Jesus Christ.”
As I took a journey of a lifetime, to literally walk where Jesus walked was a profound spiritual experience.
My Holy Land pilgrimage was a time of education, ministry, prayer and fellowship. Our journey in Israel began as we traveled from Tel Aviv to a hotel on the Sea of Galilee. On the first full day, we toured through the Jezreel Valley (or the Valley of Armageddon) and visited Tel Megiddo, Mount Carmel, Caesarea and the Mediterranean Sea. As we continued, the pace stayed high and impactful. The next few days’ highlights were Cana, Nazareth, Mount Precipice and the Mount of Beatitudes, the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter, Capernaum, Baptism (my first) in the Jordan and sailing on the Sea of Galilee.
The last morning in Tiberias, I watched the sunrise over the waters that Jesus fished, where He worshiped and performed miracles. Our journey took us for the next days into Jordan and spending time exploring via foot, camel and donkey the ancient city of Petra. We then continued back to Israel as we made our way to the Holy City of Jerusalem. I was reminded of these words written by Frederick Weatherly, from the ballad “The Holy City”:
And once again the scene was chang'd,
New earth there seem'd to be.
I saw the Holy City
Beside the tideless sea.
The light of God was on its streets,
The gates were open wide,
And all who would might enter,
And no one was denied.
No need of moon or stars by night,
Or sun to shine by day;
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away,.
Sing for the night is o’er!
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna for evermore!
Being in this sacred city was overwhelming and moving. I walked down the Mount of Olives on the Hosanna Road to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations. I toured the Old City pathway along the Via Dolorosa (“way of sorrows”) on the route Jesus took from Pilate’s judgment hall to Calvary, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I prayed at the Western Wall, placing many names in the crevices. We worshiped at the peaceful Garden Tomb and took communion and sang at the Upper Room where Jesus ate his last supper. As noted earlier, I stood on the temple steps in prayerful worship, singing songs of praise.
Thanks to my Grace family who put me on your prayer list for safe travels. This pilgrim’s journey was more spiritual than I had anticipated, and provided much healing.
“Pray for peace in Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper.” — Psalm 122:6 (NLT)
Teri Naylor is a Walmart retiree who loves theatre, music and anything with the arts. Teri traveled the world with her husband and enjoys new and exciting adventures. As a new chapter of life begins, she is learning a deeper love of God and experiencing more spiritual adventures. She volunteers with Cooperative Emergency Outreach and Faith in Action.