Tomorrow at this time, I should be on a flight from LAX to Tel Aviv via El Al Airlines. There are so many parts of this that are new. I've never been to Tel Aviv, Israel, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, etc etc. I've actually never been out of the country except for across the southern border to Mexico, and the last time I did that, one did not even need to carry a passport to go there! I've never flown in an aircraft for 14+ hours. I've never traveled this far or this long with someone other than a family member. I've never done something this monumental and felt so unprepared.
I preached this morning on the concept of pilgrimage and journey, with Jacob's journey to Haran and his dream revelation. We sang songs about journey and God's accompaniment. We reflected on our own lives and journeys. But most importantly, we acknowledged how God is present, protecting us and guiding us home, whether that be in far away lands or places we've traveled so many times that they no longer feel like place to us at all, but instead are the locales that have become so familiar that they are woven into the very fiber of our beings.
I have so little idea of what to expect in my time on holy pilgrimage to holy sites, but I do expect that I will be encountering God in and around every nook and cranny and cafe and church and face, whether a traditional monk or priest or neighbor or friend or IDF agent, but mostly, I hope to rediscover God at the very core of my own thoughts and prayers and dreams. Then, like Jacob, I'll be able to declare, "Surely God is in this place, and I did not know it!"