A new faith journey of discovery

Category: Jerusalem

Walkabout Jerusalem 2020

As the winter of 2020 continued I was delighted to embark on my second visit to the Holy Land. We arrived at the Sea of Galilee on February 24th with a full itinerary for the week including; Galilee, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jericho and the Dead Sea.


Really excited to be not just revisiting but re-energising my understanding of the life of Jesus, visiting the same places and walking in his footsteps.

Spiritually it would touch my soul, physically it would give me great hope as I visited further places in my pilgrimages and travel journeys. The Dead Sea has been a place I hadwanted to visit since I learnt about it at school.

Physically, the whole region is set on the edge of the Mediterranean and Europe and the edge of the Middle East and Africa. Never a very settled area of the world. The Dead Sea is at the end of the deepest valley in the world, with the River Jordan flowing through this rift valley.

Every day details of our pilgrimage were posted, with photos and information, plus sights and thoughts which touched my soul and spirit.

Join me in the this journey at the start of Lent 2020.

Rev’d Sue Martin

Part of my faith journey around the world…

Preparation at 1 Week to go…

We travel to…

One week to go before we set off for the Holy Land. Although Jerusalem beckoned me, I knew that one of the most loved areas will be at Lake Galilee.

 As a Roman Catholic priest said, “Even if there are many places telling you that Jesus walked here and making claims for his presence in that place, there is one thing that you must do. That is to see the dawn appear over the Sea of Galilee, as it comes up between the dark hills and that first shaft of light hits the water, then you know that Jesus would have seen that same shaft of light so many years ago.”

The tranquillity of the edge of the lake is magical and a timelessness that pervades even the most restless of spirits. The lake feeds into the River Jordan at the south side and forms a backdrop of our journey with Jesus at his baptism.

Geographically, the Jordan Valley is part of a 380-kilometer-long rift valley runs from the Yarmouk River in the north to Al Aqaba in the south. The Dead Sea valley is a fraction of The Great Rift: a fault of some 37,000 miles that was created around 25 million years ago, as an outcome of an asymmetric shift between the Asian and the African shields.

And for now I would start getting my clothes and notebooks ready, and so look forward to getting a little lost in mind and spirit, at Lake Galilee.


Revd Sue Martin

Ready to start the journey…

Day 1 Travel from UK to Israel

An early start from Norfolk saw myself and three fellow pilgrims travelling to Luton airport at 6.00am on a cold, wet and windy Monday morning in February. Every journey has to start somewhere, and we were definitely looking forward to a warmer climate in Israel.

Restal Hotel, Tiberius

Travel on easyJet was fine and we landed at Tel Aviv airport at 6.30pm. Security was tight but not aggressive and we made it to the coach with our other 52 pilgrims, weary, hungry and ready for the hotel and a hot shower and bed.

But that was not to happen right away and we met with our guide, Hanna or in English, John, who kept us fed with information about the week ahead, Israel, our pilgrimage, the Old Testament and more…. So, by 9.00pm when we arrived at Restal Hotel in Tiberius, we already knew more than previously about the Holy Land.

Rev’d Sue Martin

Just arriving…

Day 2 Galilee and Caesarea Philippi

We started at the Mount of Beatitudes, which overlooked the Sea of Galilee. An enormously peaceful place where we could stay and wander for a while among the gardens and into the church.

Sea of Galilee

From there we had a 50 minute coach journey north along the Route 90, which travels from the southern tip of Israel to the north. The scenery was full of orchards for apples, mangos, oranges, lemons and bananas interspersed with filed of wheat. But quickly this change to more rocky climbs and Hannar explained to us the position of the closeness of Lebanon and Syria. We were 30 miles from Damascus and 50 or so from Beirut. The Golan Heights are quite mountainous and Caesarea Philippi was set at the edge of the mountains.

Caesarea Philippi

A beautiful place with springs and invitingly clear and clean water rushing through toward the Jordan. The old cave and temples of ancient pagan worshippers was the site where Jesus came with his disciples as a turning point in Jesus ministry. He was heading to Jeruslem and Jesus needed to know that his disciples were with him. He asked Peter there if he would look after his church.

St Peter’s Primacy, Lake Galilee

St. Peter’s Primacy, Lake Galilee

I had been to this place five years ago, but each time is special, and this was no exception. We had time to wander and listen to the reading.and time to visit the church which holds the rock that Jesus stood on as he asked Peter three times if he loved him.

It left me wondering if Peter knew what he was taking on?

Lunch! St Peter’s fish

By the afternoon the weather had become warm but there were some strong winds and when we arrived at Capernaum it was good to find some places in the sun. This was the place where Jesus mainly lived and also where he cured Simon Peter’s mother in law. The site of the house is still visible and also the synagogue where Jesus would have prayed. But for me the place to be was at the edge of the lake. I sat on the boulders at the waters edge in the sun and thought and thought. As I sat there the wind calmed a little.

Preparing to cast off!

Our last visit of the day was on a boat on Lake Galilee at 4.30pm. The sun was already low in the sky and as we set out on the wooden boat called Noah our party of 55 sat around the edge and on the plastic chairs.

Wonderful views…and a sit down!

After about 10 minutes we were in the middle of the lake and Bishop of Lynn, Rt Reverend Jonathan Meyrich led us in the reading and a period of silence. A very profound and spiritual time, the boat’s engine was cut, there was no wind and even the waves stopped hitting the boat and only the occasional one was heard lapping at the edge of the boat.

“What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him? Asked the disciples”. Matthew 8: 27

Rev’d Sue Martin

Reflection and new memories…

Day 6 – Jerusalem.

The City before us…

A day full of emotions, crowds and friends. So many places visited today, and this outline is an indication only of the immensity of each place in spirit and history.

The Mount of Olives

We left the bus as the rain poured down and the cold wind blew. This was a different day. The view of the City of Jerusalem panned out before us, the golden dome highlighted against the dark grey sky.

Dominus Flevit

By this time we were cold and wet but undaunted, we held our service outdoors. With the church behind us we walked down the very slippery road to the gates of Jerusalem.

Garden of Gethsemane

The Garden of Gethsemene

Forever a special place, the place where Jesus found his task more difficult than ever and asked God if he had to do this. Peter, James and John could not keep awake with him. The remaining 8 disciples waited as Jesus returned to them when Judas came to betray him. From here the passion began and Jesus remained passive through all that would follow. For us as pilgrims, it was a place to be. A place to stay and to wonder.

Caiaphas’ House

The soldiers had taken Jesus to this house and to the dungeons below. Peter followed and denied Jesus three times. In the distance on this day we also heard the cock crow. But a place of sorrows.

Dormitian Abbey

Dormitian Abbey

This place spoke to me somehow. The sky by now had turned blue and the wind was freezing cold. This is the place where Mary may have died and taken to heaven by an angel. This is not in the gospels but possibly in the Gospel of St Thomas.

The Upper Room

We walked through the narrow streets and as young Israeli recruits were marching past, we looked at the Upper Room, a tiny window next to a pillar, well hidden from any crowds.

Bethesda The Healing Pools

The site where the paralysed man had waited for 38 years to be first in the pool and be healed. Jesus asked him to get up and walk and he did. We held a Healing Service by the pools, which was a powerful way for many to ask for healing.

Via Delarosa

The Via Dolorosa

We started to walk on the Via Delorosa at 3.45pm and it would be dark by 5.30pm But it was a good time as the narrow streets were not too busy and we stopped at all the stations of the cross for a reading and hymn. This was a powerful place full of sorrow and yet in the midst of this the street sellers would have sounded much the same. We stood on a corner of a tiny street at Station 5 were Simon the Cyrenee from North Africa was asked to help Jesus, a young man from Northern Africa came rushing past.

…further along

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The last 3 stations are in the church and by now it was dark. The church was busy and some of us went straight to the site of the cross and some waited at the tomb of Jesus. It is an Armenian Church and very ornate and a holy place full of pilgrims from all over the world.

These are shortened sections and when I return to UK I will write more on the Via Delorosa, there is much to tell…

Rev’d Sue Martin
With a happy heart..and tired feet

Day 7 – St George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem

St. George’s Cathedral

We joined the congregation at the cathedral for the Eucharist in Arabic and English. Along with people from Diocese of Exeter and other places in the world. An interesting babbling sound of different languages for the prayers. Some beautiful dates and coffee afterwards.

Ain Karin

Ain Karin

This is the birthplace of John the Baptist and the site of the Visitation. A beautiful place in the countryside with rolling hills and a deep valley, birds were singing, and a few flowers were appearing. We read the Benedictus on the wall at the place where Zechariah was able to speak again. Hanna told us the meaning of the names; Zechariah – God remember me and Elizabeth – my God is my oath.

A gentle spring of water at the site where Mary stopped for water on her way to see Elizabeth and tell her the news. We stopped for coffee and a bite to eat, soaking up the atmosphere.

Yad Vashem – The Holocaust Museum

Yad Vashem

A very different and daunting museum, we wandered through, mainly in silence. No photos allowed which would have been a distraction anyway. The museum is built in a triangle and on entering, the film on the wall in front appears to be a place where you are wandering. The film is made up of a map and of Jewish people in their daily lives before the Second World War, children waving with smiling faces.

Between the displays were intersections with memories which need to be remembered, many old books, for instance, and the films of people burning many, many books by writers including Karl Marx . The last but one intersection was a simple train line and the barrier for the end of the line.

Much to say but for another day…

Rev’d Sue Martin
A day of emotions
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