By the time this edition of the Epistle goes to print, we should have reached the 30-day countdown to the departure date for the “In the Footsteps of Jesus” pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On February 3, fourteen people from our church will be joining eleven fellow pilgrims from churches outside Massachusetts to begin the journey to Israel. Our itinerary includes visits to places like Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes, the traditional location of the feeding of the 5,000, the town of Magdala (associated with Mary Magdalene), the Via Dolorosa (“the Way of the Cross,”) concluding at the Garden Tomb, for a service of communion and prayer. Most of us will return on February 14, while a few will remain for an extended stay and further exploration. This is certain to be a once in a lifetime, spiritually transformative experience; and I truly wish everyone reading this could be part of the pilgrimage. I know that is not possible, but the next best thing will be the accounts of the experience that participants will bring back with them to share. In the meantime, here are some important dates and events related to the pilgrimage of which you should be aware. I will not be in the office for the week before we depart (January 24-31), in order to make time for final preparations related to my responsibilities as co-leader of the pilgrimage. On February 2, (the day before departure) our Sunday worship with Communion will include a time of blessing for those going to Israel. I will not be in the office the week after our return, in order to set aside time for developing a program of worship for Lent that incorporates the pilgrimage experience. Rev. John Zehring will lead worship on two of the Sundays I will be absent. The deacons are making plans for the third Sunday Worship Connections will NOT meet from January 29 – February 26, and will resume on March 4. The Centering Prayer Group will NOT meet on January 28 or February 11.