Mid Week Reflection and Prayer – Stay Pilgrimage, Galilee.
By Rev Derek Akker.
I have been fortunate to visit the Holy Land on a number of occasions, on two of these occasions Sue accompanied me and on one occasion Sue assisted me in leading a pilgrimage. On the last two pilgrimages our local guide, Oliver, was always keen to remind us to be careful about how we viewed the sites we visited. They often could not be verified historically so at best they were the sites that pilgrims have associated with biblical events across the centuries. With these words of caution in our minds let us have a short, selective trip to the Holy Land.
What could a Stay Pilgrimage mean as you read this? It is a journey and search of hopefully spiritual significance. It is a journey in our mind to places of importance to our belief and faith.
The late Bishop of Jerusalem, Samir Hanna Kaffity, who Sue and I met on two occasions described himself as an Israeli, Palestinian Christian. One of his favourite sayings to pilgrims was a reminder that when visiting the sites, the stones, also to remember the ‘leaving stones’, those whose homes are in Palestine and Israel. Palestinian Christians were and still are a persecuted minority.
Most pilgrimages start in Jerusalem and then go onto Bethlehem, Jericho and the Dead Sea. I am going to leave those areas behind us. Once we had left these busy, crowded and at times stifling sites in and around Jerusalem it is a pleasure to be driven north to the region of Galilee and beyond. There were still other pilgrims but on the whole, it was more relaxed and offered more time to be reflective
An Opening Prayer
God of our pilgrimage, you have given us a desire to take the questing way and set out on our journey.Help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, that whatever we encounter, we may seek to glorify you by the way we live. Amen
As we begin our time of prayer and reflection find a comfortable place to sit, slowly breath in and out, trying to calm yourself and become relaxed. Take a look at the photograph of Galilee taken from the Mount of the Beatitudes. Take in the calmness of the lake, the hills that mark out its shoreline. In the foreground are the slopes that across the centuries have been associated with the Sermon on the Mount. Clearly, Galilee was a place of significance for Jesus and his ministry. It is a place where Jesus walked, talked and listened. It is a very special place.
I invite you to imagine you are sat on the hillside and you hear Jesus saying these words:
‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. ‘Pray then in this way: (praying slowly, pausing at the end of each line)
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6.5-15)
Pause for a moment, how do you feel after reading the Lord’s Prayer slowly with the picture of Galilee in front of you? It’s the location where Jesus taught his disciples this prayer, a prayer handed down to us.