Many of you know that I was part of a group going to Israel with Jeff Cavins. Jeff has spoken at many God Squad events over the years, always able to capture the men’s attention and imagination. It was incredible to be in Israel with him and his wife Emily. I have led many of the Great Adventure Bible Studies over the years, in which Jeff made the bible come alive. Here I was in Israel visiting many of the sites he had spoken of.
We were 180 strong leaving Tel Aviv for our first stop at Caesarea Maritima a great port built by King Herod. We spent 3 nights in the north on the sea of Galilee visiting a large number of the sites where Jesus walked and taught. We learned of the culture and cities that we travelled, Muslim and Jewish towns side by side. We heard the call to prayer throughout the country and witnessed the Jewish people celebrating the Sabbath. These things were most evident during our time in Jerusalem. In the Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods barriers go up to stop people from going into the area or insiders from leaving. Their national airline does not fly on the Sabbath. The government apparently fell after two pilots flew new fighter jets from the US on the Sabbath, as it was unnecessary work! They take this faith thing seriously!
We visited the Mt. of Olives and Bethlehem, The Garden of Gethsemane, The Upper Room and the spot where Peter denied Jesus. The whole time we were receiving great teachings from Jeff and attending the Holy Mass daily. It was slowly soaking into my soul that I need to be a stronger father when it came to setting an example of taking a day of rest to spend time with my children. Where it really took hold was completing the Via Dolorosa at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre standing at the tomb of Jesus. I touched the rock he was crucified on, I kissed the stone where his body was wrapped and I entered the tomb where he was placed.
Jeff reminded us several times about God speaking in a still small voice. The Lord was telling me to set aside a day to spend with my family to enjoy the blessings I have received.
I pray that I am able to put into action what I learned on this pilgrimage in the days and weeks to come – to keep the commandment “keep Holy The Lord’s Day”.
There is so much more to write about this trip that I hope to unpack in the days and weeks to come. I pray that I can share them in a coherent manner with you. I continue onto Rome now to complete our pilgrimage where I will pray for God Squad Canada and the up-coming conference.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God”