We are leaving tonight for our trip to the Holy Land with about 150 people from Indiana, including 23 clergy who are traveling on their gift certificate from the Indiana Area Foundation in celebration of their ordination. That is a great program, and it enables newer clergy to have an experience of seeing, walking, and touching the places of the Bible. We all welcome prayers for our safe travel and for an inspiring trip.

Traveling to the Holy Land is not about being a tourist; it is about being a pilgrim. This trip is an opportunity to grow spiritually, to reflect upon how much the land and the geography are what Education Opportunities (the travel group with whom we are going) calls “The Fifth Gospel.”

On another level, “holy land” is where we encounter God, or perhaps I should say it is anywhere that we are open to the presence of God. So a church camp, a seashore, a mountain view, a church sanctuary or chapel, a hospital room, or any so-called “ordinary” places can become a place where we have an extraordinary encounter with God. Being open and receptive to the presence of God’s Spirit can make any place, any moment, and any experience a holy place. Certainly it is easier to have such a moment when we plan for it, prepare, and even travel to a place with a history of people encountering God. But anywhere is holy land, anywhere that we experience God.

So while I am away on this Holy Land trip, I also pray that you will be open to discovering God and finding your own holy place this week.

God bless you.

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner