Israel 2012 – Day One (Travel Day): Heading to Armageddon

Welcome new readers who are interested in following our group pilgrimage, here we go!

Many of you, friends, colleagues, and family will be very present in my mind over the next 10 days.

I’m at the Orlando International Airport overwhelmed, excited, and humbled;

humbled by the opportunity that lies before me, humbled by the opportunity to experience new places, people, customs, and represent the places, people, and customs I know and love.

humbled by the opportunity to walk some of the footsteps of the humble man who changed the world.

I’ve been desperately trying to detach myself from “my” world – even a five day fast! – so that I could focus on preparing for the world I am entering.

I was quite unsuccessful.

Maybe that’s the beauty of this pilgrimage. Maybe that’s what a pilgrimage really is. Less of me and more (if not all) about where I will be walking and whom I am walking with.

Like the rest of my faith journey, I am being forced to move forward regardless of how unprepared I might feel.

That being said, it seems like the timing could be perfect.

When I return, my wife will be entering the period of pregnancy that will make her more dependent upon me, and from what I hear, Daddyhood will leave me pretty busy too.

Meanwhile in Israel, there are Israeli and Palestinian Leaders agreeing to meet for the first time in a while (Although both are clear that this is NOT a negotiation. Read the Story Here.)

There are stories of an emerging “Rosa Parks of Israel”. (Read the Story Here)

Heading to Armageddon

When I land tomorrow, I will be in Tel-Aviv. We will be transported by bus to Cesarea (more on that tomorrow) and then taken to Har Megiddo.

Har, meaning hill, of Meggido was the hill where many (if not most) of the major Biblical battles had taken place. Thus, it was natural that it became the place where prophets of the time figured the last battle would take place too.

Over time, as the Greek speaking world gained influence, Har Meggido (say it fast, it’ll make sense) evolved into Armageddon. (You might need to reread that sentence)

Coming from a culture where “Armageddon” is a scare tactic and a marketing ploy, it is exciting to see the simplicity and beauty of the origins being traced back to what I think is a more appropriate, beautiful, and real presence.

Maybe that’s what this trip is about, tracing back the myths, places, people, and stories to experience the beauty, simplicity, and power from which it all began.

Of course, I cannot omit the fact that there is also conflict, suffering, and injustice in these parts as well. Perhaps it will be possible to unpack the spin of time and culture to better experience the truth and complexity as well.

All in due time.

But, as I prepare to board the plane and detach from yesterday, I prepare for just tomorrow:

– Ceserea
-Meeting a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and
– Armageddon.

Or is it Har Meggido?

Again, all in due time.

A Prayer for the Pilgrimage

(Written by Dr. Casey Baggott)

Pil.grim.age (n) 1. A Journey to a sacred place. 2. A long journey or seach, esp. one of exalted purpose. (The American Heritage Dictionary)

Blessed are You, Lord our God, for you have created the wide and wondrous world in which we travel. We ask your blessing upon us as we are about to embark upon our pilgrimage. Be our ever-near companion, O Holy God, and spread the road before us with beauty and awe.

May all the pathways ahead of us be free of harm and evil. May we be accompanied by your HOly Spirit, as were the saints and prophets of days long past. Show us the invisibile meanins in every event of our journey, from delays and disappointments, to discoveries and dreams renewed.

On this trip, we venture toward the Holy Land, which had given us our scripture, our Savior, and our church. Help us to see the gifts there for us still. Let us find your footprints among the holy sites; let us hear your voice call along the cobbled streets; let us sense your presence alive and strong among the ruins. Let us know your Sacred Presence in all that befalls us.

May our journey awaken us to the mystery of your holy plan for all your children of the world, worked out slowly across time and space. And may our travels help fulfill your plans for us.

Let the blessing of Your name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be upon us throughout this trip, and bring us home again in safety and peace. Amen.

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(This post edited by the other half of the odd couple)

Click Here to Link to Day Two

Click Here to Link to Day Three
Click Here to Link to Day Four
Click Here to Link to Day Five
Click Here to Link to Day Six
Click Here to Link to Day Seven
Click Here to Link to Day Eight
Click Here to Link to Day Nine