31st October ~ 8th November 2011

‘Clogher Diocese has now become renowned for interesting and meaningful pilgrimages. We have visited the Holy Land on three occasions in less than 18 months. Every Pilgrimage has been over subscribed. Our Fourth Pilgrimage is now planned for October/November 2011 and will be to Jordan. This will offer an opportunity of a lifetime to explore the world of the Old Testament and of John the Baptist. Spiritually the desert will provide the personal and corporate space to prepare for Advent and Christmas. The link between the earlier Pilgrimages and the 2011 Pilgrimage is, of course, the River Jordan itself. I encourage you to take this unique invitation to go deeper and to strengthen the faith which binds us together and holds us in the palm of God’s hand.’

† Michael


Day 1
We depart from Belfast on our flight to Amman via London Heathrow. On arrival at Queen Alia airport we will be met and transferred to our hotel in Amman for overnight.
Day 2 – Umm Qais / Um Qais / Jerash
In the New Testament period, north Jordan was the region of the Decapolis (Greek for ‘ten cities’), where Jesus taught and performed miracles (Matthew 4:25; Mark 5:20). The city of Gardara (modern Um Qais), with its spectacular panoramic views overlooking the Sea of Galilee, is the site of Jesus’ miracle of the Gadarene swine, where he sent demented spirits out of two men into a herd of swine. They ran down the hill and drowned in the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:28-34). Lunch at Um Qais. Drive to Gerasa (Jerash) where we visit the most complete and best-preserved Graeco-Roman city in the Middle East.
Dinner and overnight Amman.
Day 3 – Amman city tour / Madaba / Petra
The region around the Jordanian capital of Amman was known in the Bible as Ammonite Kingdom (Deuteronomy 2:37; Samuel 10:2) famed for its springs and citadel. Its massive fortifications are still standing, where David arranged for Uriah the Hittite to die in battle in order to marry his widow Bathsheba. Visit the Church of Christ the Redeemer in Amman. We drive to Madaba, “The city of Mosaics”, there we see the 6th Century Byzantine mosaic map of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George that depicts the Holy Land as early Christians saw it. We continue to Mukawir, Herod’s hilltop fortress.
Dinner and overnight in Petra.
Day 4 – Petra, the Rose-Red City
The ancient fortress-city of Petra, which means “stone” in Greek, was the capital of the Nabateans, who carved this wonderland of temples, tombs and elaborate buildings out of solid rock and who grew rich by levying taxes on travellers to ensure safe passage through their lands.
Petra’s exquisite ruins open doorways in time to the biblical land of Moab and the nearby Valley of Moses. The plains of Moab were so named because this area once fell under the control of King Eglon of Moab in the Iron Age (Judges 3:12-14).
To these plains, the wide floor of the Jordan Valley east of the Jordan River, Moses finally brought his people after their epic wilderness journey. Here is where Joshua prepared the people for the crossing of the river into Canaan (Joshua 3:1). The area’s principal water source, Ain Moussa (spring of Moses), held to be one of the many places where Moses struck a rock with his staff to bring forth water (Numbers 20:10-12). Aaron’s final resting place lies atop nearby Mount Hor, now called Jabal Haroon (Mount Aaron).
Dinner and overnight in Petra.
Day 5 – Wadi Rum / Dead Sea
We leave Petra and visit Wadi Rum where we enjoy a 4 x 4 jeep ride into the desert of Lawrence of Arabia fame, have lunch in the desert and then drive to Aqaba for dinner and overnight.
Day 6 – Aqaba
In addition to some free time, we hope our friend Reverend Cameron Macdonald (Mission to Seamen) will be able to arrange a boat trip on the Red Sea (optional) and visits to meet some local Christians.
Dinner and overnight.
Day 7 – Lot’s Cave / Baptism Site
This morning we drive to Lot’s Cave, via the beautiful Wadi Feifeh road near Tafileh, along the King’s Highway. Here, after fleeing Sodom, Lot and his daughters are said to have lived (Genesis 19:30). The Bible says Lot’s daughters gave birth to sons whose descendants would become the Ammonite and Moabite people (Genesis 19:31-38), whose kingdoms were in what is now central Jordan. We continue to the Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan Baptism Site. The winding loop in the Jordan River opposite Jericho has long been considered the place of Jesus’ baptism. It is known in Arabic as Al-Maghtas (the baptism site). Here the spirit of God descended like a dove upon Jesus, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, NIV). About a kilometre east of the river, beyond the thick belt of trees and bush that the Bible calls “the jungle of the Jordan” or “the pride of the Jordan” (Jeremiah 12:5, Zechariah 11:3), the landscape abruptly changes into a stark and barren area known in the Bible as the “wilderness”. It was in this wilderness that Jesus went to fast for forty days and nights after his baptism. The term “Bethany” refers both to the general area between the ancient town and the river (this should not be confused with the village of Bethany outside Jerusalem, where the Bible says Lazarus was raised from the dead). The hill at the heart of Bethany, know as Tel Mar Elijah (Elijah’s Hill), is revered as the spot where Elijah descended to heaven.
Dinner and overnight Amman.
Day 8 – Mount Nebo / Macharis
This morning we visit Mount Nebo (also known as Pisgah), to see where Moses glimpsed the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34:1-5). Early Christians revered this spot and made pilgrimages to it from Jerusalem. A small church was built in the 4th Century A.D. to commemorate the end of the life of Moses and was subsequently expanded into the present large basilica with its stunning collection of Byzantine mosaics. We continue to Mukawir (also known as Machaerus), and see where John the Baptist was beheaded after Salome’s fateful dance for her step-father (Matthew 14:3-11).
Dinner and overnight.
Day 9
Transfer to airport for our return flight to Belfast via London Heathrow.

(By Revd Glenn West)

Our earthly pilgrimage towards the eternal Promised Land is a journey in which we seek to encounter and understand God through worship and prayer, through Scripture, our church and our life experiences. Our diocesan pilgrimages are all designed to bring these threads together in a meaningful and engaging way.

Jordan is a relatively small, elongated country to the east of the Jordan valley and to the east of Israel (the Promised Land of Canaan). It has a rich and unbroken legacy in the birth and development of the Christian faith.

Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Elijah were prophets who journeyed westward through this area to the Promised Land and Petra (perhaps Jordan’s most famous world heritage site) was a staging post for the 3 wise men from the east who brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the new born ‘prince of peace’.

It was in the area to the south and east of the Dead Sea that an aged Abraham fathered two sons, Ishmael whose seed became the Arabic tribes – the sons of the east, and Isaac whose seed became Israel, the sons of the west. Here too more liberal western Islam touches much more conservative eastern Islam.

In the north Jew and Muslim share the drinking water of the Sea of Galilee and in the south where Eilat (Sinai/Israel) and Aqaba (Jordan) face each other across the Red Sea the beautiful sweeping sandy beach and crystal clear sea water are other natural resources shared by both. Here the cultural diversity of swimming and bathing habits couldn’t be more different and more obvious.

Noah’s tomb at Keraic is but one of the reminders of the unbroken and shared continuity between the three Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam, Judaism).

Throughout scripture God repeatedly designated this a land of peace and refuge. The reconciliation of Jacob and Laban and Jacob and Esau are two examples of Jordan’s enduring symbolism as a place where humans learned and applied God’s command to love one another and to be merciful, tolerant, humble and forgiving.

God appeared frequently – often dramatically, and encountered humankind in this particular area; the Red Sea parted for the Israelites; Moses ushered water forth from the rock, Lot’s wife turned to salt, Jacob wrestled with God, Balaam climbed the mountain and Ruth found refuge.

When we read of the suffering of Job we are also aware that the book describes the patriarchal social structures and pastoral economy so typical of the almost lunar like Wadi Rum and South Jordan.

It is here that many recognise parallels between Elisha and Jesus; both pursued travelling ministries, both had followers or disciples, both challenged political powers and indeed performed similar miracles including cleansing lepers and bringing the dead back to life.

At Bethany in Jordan (not the same Bethany on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives) Elijah ascended and both John the Baptist and Jesus began their public ministries.

Christ’s teachings in this region include the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to little children, advice to the rich young ruler, the first shall be last and the last first and the healing of the demon possessed man.

The life of John the Baptist ended in cruel fashion in Jordan and it was from the area of the 10 Graeco-Roman cities of the Decapolis in the north that Jesus started out on his last journey to his cruel crucifixion in Jerusalem.

During the time of the early church and following his conversion on the Damascus Road St Paul spent some time in Jordan. It was at impressive Petra, among the many temples and tombs that he apparently formulated some of his doctrines.

Jordan is rich in archaeological remains; they include the remains of the earliest and oldest church in the world at Aqaba, ‘the port city of Solomon’, and a mosaic of the oldest known map of the Holy Land at Magaba, ‘the city of mosaics’.

Christians comprise only 6% of the population of the country. Present church congregations (the Living Stones) include Anglicans (under the Bishop of Jerusalem – Bishop Suheil), Latin and Greek Orthodox. The parish school at the growing Church of Christ the Redeemer in the capital Amman (present rector Revd Fadi Diab) has an unfamiliar perspective on male/female co-education, but many congregations have interesting stories to tell in their continuing witness to the faith. So too does the Revd Cameron MacDonald of the Mission to Seamen who works at the port of Aqaba.

We have a thematic approach to our pilgrimages. Each has a distinctive emphasis. Our previous visits to Israel reflected on the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord (Advent 2008, Lent 2009 and Easter 2010).

In Luke Chapter 16 verse 16 we read:

‘The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time the good news of the Kingdom of God is being preached and everyone is forcing his way into it’.

Our Jordan pilgrimage will form part of our 2011 Advent preparations as we focus on those who prepared (proclaimed) the way of Jesus Christ.

This is a new pilgrimage destination for our diocese. Whether to complement our previous pilgrimages or as a stand alone experience we commend it for your consideration and invite expressions of interest.

Tour Leaders:
Bishop Michael Jackson
Revd Glenn West (( 02866 346870)
Revd David Skuce (( 028677 21250)