I just returned from my first trip to the Holy Land. I have had many opportunities to go before, but my wife Penny was never able to go with me. This has always been a "bucket list" trip for us to take together so I wanted to wait until she would be able to go with me. So this time she was able to get away to go with me, and I am so thankful we were able to take in everything together. It was a trip that both of us will never forget!
Penny and I were simply overwhelmed on our trip with everything there was to take in when you visit all of the various sites. For the first time visitor and a preacher as well, it is very humbling to stand on the actual sites that you preach about in the Bible. My preaching will never be the same!
I will be leading another trip to the Holy Land in November 2019 along with Clear Creek alumnus and Kentucky Baptist Convention Southeast Region Consultant Alan Dodson. We will be taking Clear Creek alumni and friends on this trip. If you are interested in participating in this trip with us, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will give you some information about the trip.
We visited during the start of the Christmas season. Our visit to the Church of the Nativity brought some ironies to my attention. For me personally, here in the United States, I am one of those who continually complain about the commercialization of Christmas. I was thinking that it would be different on this most holy site. So, as we prepared for our visit that day to the Church of the Nativity and the site of Christ's birth, I was thinking of the Christmas carol Silent Night, Holy Night. However, it was anything but silent when our group toured the site.
I thought it was ironic as we were touring the Church of the Nativity, going down to the site of the birthplace, there were some priests of the church who were chastising the crowd for being very noisy and, in their minds, disrespectful to the setting where we were. Then, right around the corner, these same priests were taking people's money as they were selling all their souvenirs related to the site of Christ's birth.
In many ways, the atmospheres around the sites of the Holy Land were no different from where I live during Christmas. The focus was on making a dollar at every turn. The trip was a great reminder to me that I personally need to focus more on Christmas as a time of "Silent Night, Holy Night."