In this week’s “First Words” I wrote about Lent, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday. If you missed that, we celebrate that we had 1058 in attendance last Sunday, and for the 6 nights of Holy Week we had almost 900 participants, including some 200 who walked the labyrinth during the week. It was a deeply meaningful week, and many thanks go to all who worked hard to make it happen and to all who participated.
As we just completed our Lenten “Pilgrimage With Paul,” I’m beginning to look forward to another pilgrimage…..to the Holy Land in January 2017. We began planning a couple years ago, and, for various reasons, canceled those plans. After many discussions with some of our members who want to go, and with several who have just completed trips there, my wife Susan and I have decided it’s time to plan again.
We will be traveling with Educational Opportunities, a travel company started by a United Methodist pastor that has taken thousands of pilgrims to the Holy Land over many years. We will be on a bus with a group from Clemmons United Methodist, led by their pastor Matthew Burton, who some may remember as a former pastor at Canton Central. Matthew just returned with a group in January and has others anxious to go. We will be led by a tour guide that Matthew knows well, and we have a full itinerary visiting all the key sites. An extension to Petra in Jordan is optional.
We will visit the traditional sites of Jesus’ birth and death. We’ll visit Nazareth his hometown, a bustling place, and the ruins of Capernaum, which became his home base on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. We’ll take a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. We’ll visit the Dead Sea, Qumran where ancient scrolls were discovered, and Masada, where nearly 1000 Jews committed suicide rather than be captured by Roman soldiers. We’ll stand on the Mount of Olives looking down into Jerusalem, and we’ll walk the Via Dolorosa (“The Way of Sorrows”), the path Jesus walked to his crucifixion. The stories of the Bible will take on new meaning.
Some may be concerned about safety. I understand that. I want to urge you, if you are interested in the trip, come to one of the informational meetings. We’ll talk about safety, among other things. Those meetings will be next Wednesday, April 6, following dinner, in the Faith Classroom (6:20), and Sunday, April 17 at 4:00 in the Next Classroom. If you have any interest, come view a short video and let’s talk! Brochures are available at Connection Points and on the church website, www.fumc-waynesville.com, click on Travel Opportunity
Easter is not over! This week we continue in The Great Fifty Days of Easter with the story of Thomas. He’s been given a bad name by some, “Doubting Thomas” they call him. Let’s hear and consider his story again (John 20:19-31). I think we will find it very helpful…..so come and bring your own doubts and a friend who may have had some doubts themselves!