My husband and I just returned from a journey to the Holy Land. As one of our co-traveler’s so aptly stated, “This isn’t a vacation – it’s a pilgrimage.” Indeed.

Our experience was probably different than that of many American’s who tour the Holy Land. Our guide was a Palestinian Christian. Our bus driver was Muslim. Most of our group had Baptist backgrounds. We had interesting conversations on the bus, as we traveled from one sacred site to another. As we traveled, one of our leaders challenged us with this thought – “What makes this land holy?”

Starting at the north end of Israel, we wound our way through towns made known to us through the sacred stories of our faith. Those stories became vivid scenes as we updated the pictures in our hearts and minds. We saw the town where Christ was born, where he grew up, where he called the fishermen to become fishers of men, where he walked and taught, where he healed, where he was baptized, and where he was crucified, buried, and raised. That’s an awful lot for your heart and mind to digest. Here was the dirt, the stones, the trees, that Jesus knew…well, not exactly, but you know what I mean. Here, was His home.

Who was this Jesus of Nazareth? For one thing, Christ was a champion of the oppressed. This, I know.

One evening, we shared a meal in the home of Palestinian Christians. They were gracious and kind, and set a banquet before us. And they shared their hearts – their thoughts and fears regarding the current political situation. In Christ, we had meaningful fellowship and dialogue.

I asked the husband if he had hope that things would get better for them.


Of course, I brought some souvenirs home…jewelry, t-shirts, the usual stuff. But I also brought home several rocks. Yes, rocks. One rock was from Masada, where the Jewish people committed mass suicide rather than succumb to the Romans. Another is from the Holocaust Museum (no words needed). And another was from the Via Dolorosa, the way of the cross, the path Jesus took to Golgotha. The final stone that I brought home was from that place, Golgotha, the place of the skull.

Stones of remembrance.

We only spent a week in the Holy Land, and much of it was traveling. I believe I could be content spending the rest of my life there, seeing the sights, meeting the people – learning more about the place where the Prince of Peace walked. That is what makes the place holy.

He was here – Savior, Redeemer, Lover of all, Champion of the oppressed. I can picture it now, more clearly, more accurately, than ever before. Vacations aren’t usually life-changing. But pilgrimages are.

May, 2018

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Kim Chafee

I am a lover of the God who sings! I am a Christ-follower and an ordained minister married to the other Rev. Chafee (Scott), with two grown children and a multitude of pets. And, I love chocolate. Read more about me and the reason for this blog on my ABOUT page.

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