Holy Land 2015 | Contest – Win a Carved Olive Wood Necklace!

As a “thank you” to my new and old readers and subscribers while I’m on my Holy Land journey, I have a new contest for you. Just leave a comment on this post saying one thing you’ve learned reading my Holy Land journey. Then, sit back and relax. Three lucky commenters will win an olive … Read more Holy Land 2015 | Contest – Win a Carved Olive Wood Necklace!

Holy Land 2015 | Day 06 Part I – Hope at the Western Wall, in the School, at the Bottom of the Pit

Hello, dear reader. Today’s travelogue takes us to Jerusalem for another full day of touring. We went to at least one place most all of you know, but perhaps not by the name preferred by the local people. Also, for Part II, I have some thoughts on tradition vs. history, and a new perspective on … Read more Holy Land 2015 | Day 06 Part I – Hope at the Western Wall, in the School, at the Bottom of the Pit

Holy Land 2015 | Day 05 Part II – Three Homes, Three Lifestyles

Welcome to Part II of my Holy Land Journey, Day 5. Today’s post is brought to you by Stars & Bucks Coffee.

Star & Bucks. Now featuring "coffee-flavored drink."
Stars & Bucks. Now featuring “coffee-flavored drink.”

Lots of ground to cover, from an ancient palace in ruins to a present-day refugee camp in ruins to a homemade meal with new friends. Here’s how Day 5 ended…
Herod the King, Nate the (Stair) Master
"It's only a model."
“It’s only a model.”

Herod's summer palace featured a mountaintop fortress, the tower that became his tomb, and barracks and a mini city below with a large swimming pool carved into the land that's still there to this day (no water, though).
Herod’s summer palace featured a mountaintop fortress, the tower that became his tomb, and barracks and a mini city below with a large swimming pool carved into the land that’s still there to this day (no water, though).

Remember this tower for later...
Remember this tower for later…

Soldier's barracks and the pool.
Soldier’s barracks and the pool.

The summer palace and final tomb of King Herod the Great is a fascinating archaeological find. First of all, it’s on a mountain. Second of all, it’s a man-made mountain. Seriously. He took material from the mountain around 300 yards away and used it to build a new mountain stronghold so every single city could see him. Herod gets a bad wrap, which, well, he totally deserves. And, the guy knew how to build a palace. We walked up the side and saw his tomb (which had only been discovered there in 2007!), through the giant aqueduct, and through several antechambers until we reached the parapet and looked out over Jordan, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem. That meant Herod, who according to scripture was looking for the child born who might usurp him, was looking and looking while actually looking out and missing right was under his nose.
Herod's private amphitheater for shows. I'm sure he enjoyed and killed many a comedian.
Herod’s private amphitheater for shows. I’m sure he enjoyed and killed many a comedian.

Remember that tower model from earlier? This is the tomb of Herod only excavated in 2007.
Remember that tower model from earlier? This is the tomb of Herod only excavated in 2007.

A giant cistern that filled with water when servants released pressure from rain water.
A giant cistern that filled with water when servants released pressure from rain water.

Many crouch, few stand.
Many crouch, few stand.

The stairs were

Read moreHoly Land 2015 | Day 05 Part II – Three Homes, Three Lifestyles

Holy Land 2015 | Day 05 Part I – Beauty, Bethlehem, and Baklava

Let’s start off by noting when the hotel restaurant menu says we’re having sausages for breakfast, what they mean to say is hot dogs. Just sayin’. Anyway… Today was our second of two days in Bethlehem and we move into Jerusalem tomorrow. Click the pic for a bigger version, and enjoy Part I of the … Read more Holy Land 2015 | Day 05 Part I – Beauty, Bethlehem, and Baklava

Holy Land 2015 | Day 04 Part I – The Sea, the Valley, and the Mount

Good evening from the heart of Bethlehem, dear reader. We pulled into town just before dinner and after a full day of visiting many sites, including some which literally, no question, had to have been walked by the historical Jesus. The days are simply too packed to put into one post so I’ve decided to … Read more Holy Land 2015 | Day 04 Part I – The Sea, the Valley, and the Mount

Holy Land 2015 | Day 03 – Nazareth, Mary's House, Cana, and an Archbishop

Greetings, Dear Reader! Today was our first full-fledged day of touring in the Holy Land and there’s plenty to report. I switched to our Canon PowerShot for quick pics and its SD card played much more nicely with the MacBook Air than my Samsung Galaxy S5 did. Remember: you can click the pic to see a larger version in your browser.
The Sun Also Rises Over Galilee
While most of you settling in for the evening at home, we were roused with a 4:30am wake-up call (or 8:30pm CST, as we’re 8 hours ahead) so we could make it to breakfast and on the bus before 6:00am. You’ll recall the roads out of town were closing then to accommodate a few thousand people descending upon Tiberias for an annual marathon run around the Sea of Galilee. We all made it to the bus (no runs for us today) and ended up leaving on time and headed to the Sea of Galilee just in time for (a cloud-covered) sunrise over the water. While there I had a very interesting conversation with someone. She was explaining to me about this natural heat supplement that she started taking. It is safe and very effective. It is called Kratommasters if you would like to check it out.

Read moreHoly Land 2015 | Day 03 – Nazareth, Mary's House, Cana, and an Archbishop

Holy Land 2015 | Day 01 / 02

Hello, friends! I have arrived safe and sound (and exhausted) in the Holy Land. I’m writing at the end of my day and somewhere in the middle of yours, is my guess. I’m starting to write this at around 10:00pm on January 8 in Tiberias while you’re probably at 2:00pm on January 8 Minneapolis (or Fridley, if you prefer).
Here I am, safe and sound!

Yay!
Yay!

Here I am, jetlagged and cranky.
Meh.
Meh.

It’s all part of the experience.
This is my first entry in chronicling my journey to the Holy Land as part of a ~70 member group of clergy, laity, and friends of the Minnesota and Dakotas Annual Conferences of the United Methodist Church. Our Bishop is leading the charge and we’re touring with Educational Opportunities. You’ll find I tend to write about a lot of minutiae and if that ends up too much, well, that’s what bolded headlines are for so you can better pick and choose what you want to read.
Thank you so much for support, readership, comments, shares, and prayers over the next two weeks! On to Day #1. But first, a plea:

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Holy Land 2015 | Context and Set-Up

I’ll be blogging about my Holy Land pilgrimage this and next week. Just a quick note from the airport to say thank you much for following my blog. Two quick photos and a few notes to kick things off:
1. I am not Holy Land expert! I’ll do my best to be honest, complete, and even-handed as I learn and experience on this journey. The politics of the past and present in this place sacred to so many is

Read moreHoly Land 2015 | Context and Set-Up