Christmastide Pilgrims

Kneeling before the altar that marks the traditional place where Jesus was born. This altar is located in a cave beneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Kneeling before the altar that marks the traditional place where Jesus was born. This altar is located in a cave beneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

It may seem odd to be thinking about pilgrims at Christmastide. But it is fitting. Pilgrimage is for every season. There is never a wrong time to undertake a journey for the purpose of encountering God. Most pilgrimages are unexpected and topsy-turvy experiences. Sometimes they get messy. Ask Paul the Apostle. Whom did he expect to meet on the road to Damascus? Or ask the Christmas shepherds. After they heard the angelic announcement, they said:

"Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened" (Luke 2:15).

Let's go and see. After recovering from the shock of their lives, they became pilgrims with a purpose.

God willing, this summer we aim to go and see Bethlehem, as well as Jerusalem and Caesarea and Jericho and Nazareth and many other places where these things happened. Mark Boggess, minister from the First Christian Church in Titusville, Florida, is working with me to plan a pilgrimage for June 6-17, 2016. Would you consider joining us? Click the photograph above for more information. There is something here for the head and heart to chew. I promise.

If now is not the time for you to make such a journey, I understand that too. The encounter you seek may be closer to home. In fact, it may be right around the corner.  

Wherever you go and whatever you see in these coming days, be it near or far, my prayer is that you will find time to encounter God in a fresh way. How did our Lord put it? "Seek and you will find" (Matt 7:7).

The shepherds did. And afterwards, they "returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told" (Luke 2:20).

Merry Christmas to you and yours from Bible Lands Explorer.

Mark

Entrance, Kaniset el-Ruat, Church of the Shepherds. Beit Sahour, Palestine.