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Why Visit Israel?

This coming May 2008 I am joining Dr. John Huffman, Jr. from St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, Ca. for a 10 day visit to the State of Israel. Members from his church and the Laguna Beach church will walk on land that is called Holy by three great religions, Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Israel/Palestine is located at the crossroads between east and west. Armies of the world’s great civilizations have marched through this land moving from north to south and south to north. Those who inhabited the Holy Land were often victimized by Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, Turks, Brits, and on and on. Now the peoples of the earth are realizing how important it is that the State of Israel make space for a Palestinian state, and that the Palestinians prevent terrorist attacks upon the Jewish State. Enough of hatred, fear, and terror! Lets have peace for the sake of the world.

We travel to Israel/Palestine with the awareness of this troubled past, with a longing for peace and justice, and with not a little hope that this promised land may fulfill the prophets vision of a day when the instruments of warfare are beaten into plowshares and pruning hooks.

This will be the fifth time I have taken a group of people to the Holy Land. The geography and the history are worth the trip in itself. But what makes this land special to me is that it was in this small place that the spiritual journey of humanity had its origin. Patriarchs and matriarchs, judges, prophets, visionaries, and a pilgrim people gave hope to the promise that they had received from the Creator God. The dusty roads of this land were marked by the footprints of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah/Son of God, the Savior and Lord of the cosmos. It is Israel’s story, Jesus’ story, and the church’s story that draws me back to this distant land.

Indeed, the hopes and fears of all the years are still centered in Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity. But that church points north to the walls of the old city outside of which Jesus died for the sins of humanity in order to heal us of our sins, to reconcile us to God and to one another. This was the place where the old and the new creation kissed. This was the city in which the new humanity had its beginning in the Spirit of the Crucified God.

To experience a brief glimpse of this meaning and this reality is worth the cost, the preparation, and long flight to see and to hear the good news in a new way. This year Jerusalem! Jerry Tankersley

4 thoughts on “Why Visit Israel?

  1. Jerry, How many do you have signed up for the trip so far. And when do you expect to close reservations.


  2. Jerry,
    As you know, Ken and I were just two of the church members who traveled to Israel and Jordan with you. It will take a long time for us to absorb it all. On returning, we will never read the Bible the same way again. The Jewish and Palistinian speakers presented the conflict in a way that gave us much food for thought. We walked where Jesus walked 2000 yrs. ago and saw the wonders of the ruins of several Roman cities. We rode on a boat in the Sea of Galilee and were moved by the worship service you led in the middle of the Sea. We renewed our baptismal vows at the Jordan River. We will remember the fun of riding a camel and floating like a cork in the Dead Sea. Every day was chock full of the sights, sounds and experiences. The incredible part is that I believe our church is changed because of our experiences in Israel and Jordan. You and Kathy have incorporated the Bible verses and experiences of the trip into your sermons. We have returned with renewed passion for the Lord’s Word and new insights concerning Israeli-Palistinian conflict. Thank you for providing the leadership for this trip along with Rev. Dr. Huffman. We will be forever grateful.