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Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Published: 7th March 2023

Bishop MartinAn article for April editions of parish magazines from the Bishop of Dudley, Martin Gorick.

I have recently returned from the Holy Land, where I had the privilege of co-leading a Diocesan Pilgrimage.

The land of Israel/Palestine has long been a contested one, and we were very conscious of current tensions. Scripture invites us to ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ and that is still needed now. It was a joy to meet with members of the Christian community in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, particularly the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem, Hosam Naoum, who helped prepare and bless the Oil of Anointing for use at the Coronation of King Charles III. The oil was made using olives from the Holy Land and was blessed in the Aedicule (shrine) of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

We had visited that church late afternoon on the first day of our pilgrimage, and most of us found it a disappointing experience. There was a huge queue of people trying to get into the Aedicule, built over the traditional site of the empty tomb, the place of Resurrection; and another long queue of pilgrims waiting to climb the steep steps to the Chapel of Calvary, the traditional site of the crucifixion of Jesus. We were out of time though and had to leave before getting any further.

But early on Sunday, some of us got up at dawn and made our way through the winding streets of the Old City to arrive again at the Holy Sepulchre. Quiet this time, except for the chanting of the Coptic clergy, we were able to ascend the hill of calvary, to kneel and pray before the shrine, and to touch the rock of Golgotha, still bearing the split from an ancient earthquake. We then moved to join the slowly moving queue at the aedicule, the site of the tomb and of the resurrection of Jesus. It is small and you stoop to enter.  I prayed for you all in that place.

I had been once before as a parish priest. I’d gone early that morning too and was thrilled if rather overawed to get the chance to enter that ‘holy of holies’ for the very first time. That time I remember clearly hearing words from Mark’s gospel: “He is not here. He is Risen!”

 Whether in the Holy Land, or here in Worcestershire or in Dudley,  Jesus Christ, our crucified, risen and ascended Lord is with us still.

May the joy of our Risen Lord be with you and those you love, this Easter and for ever more.

Page last updated: Tuesday 7th March 2023 3:57 PM

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