Hi folks. I’m off this coming Monday to Egypt/ Israel for a whirlwind tour with Rikk Watts, Professor of New Testament Studies at Regent College. We’re basically going on a pre-trip to scout out a 2010 tour for a group of folks (mostly from the Seattle area) I have come to know and love over the years. The tour company is Ultimate Journeys if you are interested in taking in the tour next year (but I think it’s already sold out.)

It’s going to be an amazing adventure – and an incredible learning opportunity for me. Rikk is a drummer, aeronautical engineer turned New Testament scholar who is undoubtedly one the most interesting and best teachers I have ever sat under. Well versed in the arts, philosophy, history and sociology he is also, quite simply, a fun and funny guy. Nance and I have been to several retreats where Rikk has taught – as well, we have been to Turkey in 2008 where we followed Rikk through the archaeological sites of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation.

I’ll also be able to reconnect to some of the Palestinian friends I made when I was in Israel/Palestine a few years back. I was in Israel/Palestine about four years ago where I experienced an deeply unsettling immersion into the current tragedy there. Nothing in my experience has been as disturbing as that trip. Since then I have read quite a bit about the more recent history of the region and about Islam. So it will be good to return with a bit more base knowledge than I had then.

Interested readers should check out Sandi Tolan’s The Lemon Tree, Elias Chacour’s Blood Brothers, Karen Armstrong’s Mohammad, Islam and The Battle for God. BTW – when I recommend books it by no means indicates that I endorse everything said – rather that I found them properly stimulating and challenging. Any book on the subject of Israel/Palestine, either historical of theological, is bound to be controversial and contested. The reason I recommend these books is they offer less common perspectives than we usually encounter in the west.

However, the main point of this trip is historical/theological, not political.

Here’s the itinerary:

PRE-TRIP TO EGYPT/ISRAEL

May 11 – 23, 2009

Day 1 – Monday, May 11 Depart the USA for Cairo, Egypt

Day 2 – Tuesday, May 12 Arrival Cairo airport. Overnight in Cairo

Day 3 – Wednesday, May 13 Pyramids, the Sphinx, Egyptian Museum with the Treasures of King Tut Ankh Amon. Overnight in Cairo.

Day 4 – Thursday, May 14 Fly to Luxor. Visit the Bank Valley of Kings, Queens, Hatshepsute Temple, Colossi of Memnon. Overnight in Luxor

Day 5 – Friday, May 15 Visit East Karnak and Luxor Temple. Then transferred back to the airport for a flight back to Cairo. Overnight in Cairo.

Day 6 – Saturday, May 16 Journey to Taba stopping on the way at Ismailia. Overnight in Taba.

Day 7 – Sunday, May 17 Arrival at Taba border– visit Timna Park with the Solomon Pillars. Drive via the Arava and Negev Desert to the Dead Sea Dinner and overnight at Daniel Hotel, Dead Sea

Day 8 – Monday, May 18 Visit Massada, Ein Gedi – hike to the waterfall and see the caves where where David hid from Saul. Continue drive via the Jordan Valley to Beit Shean: Bet-Shean. Continue to Yardenit (southern exit of the Jordan River at the Sea of Galilee). Overnight in Tiberius.

Day 9 – Tuesday, May 19 Visit Nazareth (could be replaced by a visit to the Golan Heights and Caesarea Philipi or Dan). Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Visit Tabgha. Visit Capernaum. Visit Mt. Beatitudes. Overnight in Tiberius.

Day 10 – Wednesday, May 20 Visit Megiddo. This is the traditional Armageddon battlefield. Visit Mt. Carmel. Visit Caesarea. Drive to Jerusalem – Visit Wailing Wall, City of David on Mount Moriah, Pool of Siloam, Mt. Olives, Garden of Getsemane, Bethlehem. Overnight in Jerusalem.

Day 11 – Thursday, May 21 Visit Mt. Zion: Last Supper Room, St. Peter in Gallicantu , Ein Karem – the town of John the Baptist. Visit Israel Museum with the Shrine of the Book and the Model of Jerusalme during the 2nd Temple time Visit Tower of David Museum, depicting the History of Jerusalem and walk on the Ramparts of the Old City Garden Tomb

Day 12 – Friday, May 22 Visit the Ophel – Davidson Center, the Biblical Ascent to the Temple- the Southern Steps, where pilgrims used to assemble to pray as they made their way to the Temple. Continue to Yad Vashem Holocaust, containing the world’s largest repository of information on the Holocaust. Drive via the Elah Valley, where David slew Goliath to Tel Aviv and the Old city of Jaffa. Return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight

Day 13 – Saturday, May 23 Monday Transfer to Ben Gurion airport for return flight

Rikk Watts

me

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