Trip to Holy Land provides new perspective


    I am writing this shortly after returning from a 10-day trip to the Holy Land. I had the pleasure of traveling with about 108 clergy and laity from the North Georgia Conference. 
    My particular bus was made up of a mixture of clergy and laity including a group of men and women who were recently ordained as elders or deacons. For all of us, this was an experience that will forever change our perspectives on what it means to follow Jesus.
    There were too many highlights to mention, but there were some things that stood out which made the trip very special. We were there Ash Wednesday, which we celebrated with a service at Caesarea Philippi. To be at the place where Jesus made the turn toward Jerusalem and the cross on the first day of Lent was a powerful reminder as I make my own faith journey toward Good Friday and Easter. 
    We had the opportunity to have a healing service at the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the man who had waited by that pool for years to be healed. The celebration of Holy Communion is always special, but to have the chance to share in the body and blood of Jesus at the traditional site of the Garden Tomb made the experience unforgettable. 
     As we crossed the Sea of Galilee with high waves and high wind in a large 
diesel powered boat, one could only imagine what it was like for Jesus and the disciples to make that journey in a tiny fishing boat. Again, a whole new perspective on what it was like  for Jesus to calm the sea.
      It would be my desire for every Christian to have the opportunity to experience the Holy Land and walk where Jesus walked so long ago. I realize the opportunity may not be a reality for everyone to actually travel to Israel, but all of us can experience the travels of Jesus during this time of Lent and Easter. The Gospels give us a vivid accounting of the path Jesus took to his death on the cross and his resurrection. It is my prayer that all of us will take the opportunity to reread about the journey our Lord and Savior took on our behalf.
    I came home with a new perspective on Jesus’ journey as well as my own personal journey. We all need, from time to time, a new perspective on the things that are of the most importance in our lives!
Richard Chewning serves as superintendent of the Gainesville District.