It is with sadness, although perhaps at this stage not with great surprise, that it now seems likely we will have to postpone the Pilgrimage to the Holy Land proposed for 30 November – 10 December this year.
November’s pilgrimages are (at the time of writing) still showing on the website of Lightline Pilgrimages, but I understand they may be liable to cancellation soon. Lightline are planning ahead on a monthly basis: October’s pilgrimages have now been cancelled, and November is likely to follow.
With these thoughts in mind, I invite those who have registered for the Pilgrimage to contact Lightline. At this stage, I advise you to make contact with a view to your deposit being refunded, which is the offer they are extending to all who have booked. I will look at identifying new dates in due course.
In addition to the COVID – situation in Israel and Palestine, we cannot know when our own restrictions on travel and return to our Island will be removed. Under current regulations, even if we could go to the Holy Land, we would need to self-isolate for two weeks upon return, which is not practical in the period of Advent and Christmas.
It is not possible at present to know when the sites of the Holy Land will be able re-open, or when the people of Jerusalem will be able to welcome visitors again. Borders are re-opening, although not yet for visitors from the United Kingdom, and pilgrimage must bring blessings not only to the traveller but also to the host. It is Christians in Israel and Palestine who are the people whom we must support, and indeed Lightline Pilgrimages operate on that very principle. While it is immensely sad that we are cannot support them more fully at this time, the fact remains that current circumstances make it impossible. We must look forward to being able to engage with our Christian friends in the Holy Land at a future date, when our places of Christian heritage are open again and when travel is possible.
We continue to pray for the Christian community in the holy lands of the Middle East, and we look forward hopefully and prayerfully to being able to visit and support them in the not-too-distant future.