Finding Jesus in the Holy Land Today

A boat sailing across the Sea of GalileeOn his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Bishop Philip North concluded that, as everything in the Holy Land is political, rather than trying to escape the politics it is here that we must look for Jesus.

Along with visits to the usual visits of historical sites such as the Sea of Galilee and purpose built sites such as the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem and re-enactioned Nazareth Village in order to encounter the Jesus of biblical times it was important to meet with the livingstones. These are the Christians who continue to live and witness in Jerusalem, and we need to hear their voices to remind ourselves that Jesus is still walking and teaching and living among the poor and oppressed.

Bishop Philip recording a video in Nazareth

Bishop Philip recording his video diary in Nazareth

If all we do is visit the sites, share the eucharist in holy places, walk the paths and photograph the views then we are religious tourists, not pilgrims.

It is through encounters with the people that makes the pilgrimage real.

Bishop Philip's pilgrimage met with people who brought the truths of the scriptures to life in the towns where Jesus ministered to the poor and sick and needy:

  • Jamal, a boy who was abused as a toddler but has found a place of love and safety in the church-run Jeel al-Amal Boy's Home, Bethany in the West Bank. 

  • Mary, a Palestinian Christian working at the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation who cannot expand their work to reach even more poor and sick people due to the notorious Security Wall that was erected without notice just seven yards from the hospital.

  • Profile picture of Dean HosamThe Dean of St George’s Anglican Cathedral in Jerusalem, the Very Revd Hosam Naoum, who speaks to us honestly about the profound challenges confronting the ever-shrinking Christian presence in the Middle East.

The Diocese of Jerusalem, which extends over five countries: Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, now has just 7,000 worshippers and 36 clergy. The Dean reveals the real Jerusalem, where it is only the resurrection that brings hope to cross-shaped lives.'s 

Watch Bishop Philip talking with the Very Revd Hosam Naoum in his video log here.

Even though we are small in number...we are courageous

Dean Hosam Naoum

Whilst these encounters can be hard to hear they are important for that reason. Jesus was born into a broken world of sin. The region he lived in was an occupied nation where the people were oppressed; so it is no surprise that this is where we find him today.

 

Based on the Church Times article, 26th January 2018