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How to Focus on Christ this Christmas

Nov 20, 2017   //   by admin   //   Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on How to Focus on Christ this Christmas

 

Every year, Christmas seems to become more secular and commercial, rather than focusing on the birth of Christ. As Christians, this is one of the most important holidays of the year, and we should be striving to ensure that the birth of Jesus is at the centre of our Christmas. There are a number of things we can do to ensure we’re celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, they’re very simple and easy and will help you to feel closer to God at this important time of year.

The following 6 tips will provide ways of honouring the birth of Jesus in surprisingly simple and effective ways.

Have your family observe Advent
Throughout December, Advent offers a time for reflection and preparation for Christmas. Follow Bible readings throughout Advent with your family and take the time as a family and as individuals to pause and reflect on yourself and your connection to God.

Go to Church
Whether you’re a regular church-goer or you hardly ever attend, Christmas is the perfect time to go out and spend your time at Church. Your vicar, priest, minister or pastor will most likely be giving sermons and readings that will help you to reconnect with your faith on a deeper level, as well as helping you to contemplate the true message and meaning of Christmas.

Regularly read the Bible
Whilst we all assume that we know the Nativity in depth, it’s hugely important to read the different versions in Matthew (1:18-25) and Luke (2:1-20) to help us truly understand the message in the Bible about Christmas. You will enjoy an even deeper understanding by reading the surrounding Bible passages for a contextualised grounding of the Nativity, including Luke (1:56).

What to do about gifts
With Christmas becoming increasingly secularised, you may be feeling unfulfilled and looking for a more meaningful way to celebrate your Christmas. Despite this, the tradition of gift-giving can be deeply profound way to remember that God gave us the gift of His son, Jesus Christ.

One way your gift-giving can make more of a difference is to implement a three-gift rule in your family. The money you would otherwise spend on gifts can then be used to buy gifts for less fortunate people or go to your church’s charity.

If you decide to focus on charity this Christmas, you can still give to your friends or family by giving them a phone call, sending a handwritten letter, or arranging to spend time together.

Visit the sick and elderly
Christmas is a time to focus on family, but there are many elderly and lonely people who won’t be as fortunate over Christmas. This is the ideal time to invite an elderly neighbour or relative who would otherwise spend Christmas on their own, to join you and enjoy themselves.

If you can’t have them round to stay over Christmas (maybe they live too far away), schedule in a time to call them on Christmas Day and send them a care package, it will warm their hearts.

Commit to daily prayer throughout Advent and across Christmas
One of the most effective ways to deepen your connection to God is through daily prayer. Praying in the run up to Christmas throughout Advent will give you time for reflection and to share your burdens with God. As well as praying on your own, you may want to pray as a family or with a group of friends, praying for each other and sharing an important part of your faith.

Here at ITS Travel, we help Christians feel closer to God through organising pilgrimages for groups and individuals to Israel and throughout the world, even over Christmas. To find out more about planning a Christmas pilgrimage, call us on 0161 839 1111 or get in touch online today.

New Ideas & Itineraries

Nov 9, 2017   //   by admin   //   Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on New Ideas & Itineraries

Rev’d Marian Jones

Oct 2, 2017   //   by admin   //   Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Rev’d Marian Jones

The Rev’d Marian Jones is a retired Methodist Minister, still working part time and living in North Wales. She is a former nurse, Hospital Chaplain and Prison Chaplain, and has worked in church based ministry in North Wales, Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Over the last 38 years, she has led numerous groups to the Holy Land as well as going on ‘private’ visits. There are always new discoveries – new places, new excavations, new things to see – and part of the experience is to share in the reactions of first time pilgrims. She has also taken groups to Greece and Turkey ‘In the steps of St Paul’, as well as to Jordan and Rome and Assisi.

There are those who travel regularly, joining the groups she leads, and each time there are newcomers who see the Biblical sites with new eyes and share their experience. A pilgrimage brings the Bible to life!

In the Footsteps of Jesus

Oct 2, 2017   //   by admin   //   Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on In the Footsteps of Jesus

Day 1 Monday 29th October
Heathrow to Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
Meet at Heathrow to travel onwards to Tel Aviv from where we will continue the journey by coach to our hotel, The Leonardo Hotel (or similar) in Jerusalem.

Day 2 Tuesday 30th October
By coach to the Mount of Olives for a panoramic view the Old City of Jerusalem; walk part of the Palm Sunday route down the Mount of Olives, visiting the churches of Pater Noster and Dominus Flevit (where Jesus wept over Jerusalem) and The Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane where we will celebrate Holy Communion. Proceed across the Kidron Valley to the site of the house of Caiaphas, where the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu now stands.

Day 3 Wednesday 31st October
Today, we visit Masada and tour this mountain top fortress. Onto Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, and then to ‘swim’ in the Dead Sea. A short detour takes us to Qasr el Yahud, a possible site of the baptism of Jesus, End the day at Jericho where we will ascend the Mount of Temptation and see Hisham’s Palace. Return to hotel in Jerusalem.

Day 4 Thursday 1st November
We have a walking tour of the Old City of Jerusalem starting at St Stephen’s Gate, visiting the Pool of Bethesda and St Anne’s Church. Walking the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross we make our way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, then to Temple Mount and a visit to the excavations. If possible, we will visit the Syrian Church of St Mark.

Day 5 Friday 2nd November
Visit the Israeli Museum for the Jerusalem model and The Shrine of the Book, then, in the afternoon, to a possible site of Emmaus at Abu Ghosh and Ein Kerem (birthplace of John the Baptist). Later in the day we go to the Garden Tomb.

Day 6 Saturday 3rd November
On to Bethlehem, in the Palestinian Authority, to visit Shepherds’ Fields, The Church of the Nativity and an opportunity to shop for gifts in Bethlehem. It is hoped to arrange a visit to Tent of Nations, a Peace Organisation outside Bethlehem.

Day 7 Sunday 4th November
After joining the congregation at St George’s Cathedral we set out on our mid morning transfer to Tiberias, via Bethany, where Martha, Mary and Lazarus lived. Then continue travelling along the mountain route to visit Jacob’s Well* stopping later on the journey to see the excavations at Beit She’an, the place where King Saul was killed, and the mosaics at the Beit Alpha Synagogue.
Arrive at our hotel, the Ron Beach in Tiberias.

Day 8 Monday 5th November
This morning, we visit sites around the Sea of Galilee – Capernaum, Tabgha (the loaves and fishes), the Church of Peter’s Primacy , Magdala and the Mount of Beatitudes. Take a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee and see the ‘Jesus’ boat in the museum at Nof Ginnosar.
See the river Jordan at Yardenit (a modern-day baptismal site) and visit the gift shop there.

Day 9 Tuesday 6th November
We visit Acre/Akko to see the Crusader Fortress, the Old Town and the Or Torah Synagogue. Continue to the Golan Heights and Banias (Caesarea Philippi) where there Jesus asked his followers: ’Who do you say that I am?’ There will be an opportunity to renew the vows made on our behalf at our baptism. Return to our hotel.

Day 10 Wednesday 7th November
Today we ascend Mount Tabor, a possible site of the Transfiguration and continue to Nazareth to visit the significant churches there – the Basilica of the Annunciation, the Church of Mary’s Well, St Joseph’s Church – then to Cana, the place of Jesus’ first miracle.

Day 11 Thursday 8th November
On our way to our overnight hotel near Tel Aviv
we stop at Peniel (a chapel on the sea shore) for Holy Communion before going on to visit the Ba’hai Temple Gardens in Haifa, view Elijah’s cave and continuing to Muhraqa on Mount Carmel, where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal. Then we travel for a quick overview of Caesarea where Paul was imprisoned and where Peter baptised Cornelius and his household.

Day 12 Friday 9th November
Early departure for flight to Heathrow

*subject to the prevailing situation

Understanding Advent & its meaning in Christianity

Sep 19, 2017   //   by admin   //   Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Understanding Advent & its meaning in Christianity

If you’re unfamiliar with the liturgical year, you may be somewhat confused about the meaning and significance of the Advent season. As well as focusing on the expectation and anticipation of Christ’s birth in the weeks leading up to Christmas, but there’s a lot more to Advent for Christians to understand.

The history of Advent
‘Advent’ comes from the Latin word adventus, which means ‘coming’. It’s thought that in the 4th and 5th centuries in Gaul and Spain, Advent was a time for the preparation for the baptisms of new Christians at Epiphany, Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist and Jesus’ first miracle at Cana. The 4th and 5th centuries saw Advent as a time for prayer, penance and fasting in order to prepare for celebrations at Epiphany – there was almost no connection between Christmas and Advent.

In the 6th century, however, things had changed and Advent was closely associated with the second coming of Christ as the judge of the world, and it wasn’t until the middle ages that Advent was linked with Christ’s first coming and Christmas.

Advent today
Advent today lasts for the four Sundays prior to Christmas, with the Christian new year beginning with the twelve days of Christmastide (which starts from Christmas Eve up until January 6th and Epiphany). This means that Advent can fall anywhere between November 26th and December 3rd, and this year it will fall on December 3rd.

Advent and modern Christian life
No one can deny that Advent is a great time of anticipation and celebration of Christ’s birth, but this time also helps us to fully understand the miracle of Christmas and Christian life. Advent is the time to think of Christ’s fulfilled promise of His first coming and the yet-to-be-fulfilled promise of His second coming.

For Christians worried about modern Christmas disconnecting them with the true meaning of Advent and its importance in Christian life, prayer will help you to distance yourself from those distractions and to open your heart to the hope and joy of Christ’s birth.

Here at ITS Travel, Advent is a special time for pilgrimages both in Israel and throughout the world. For more information, call us today on 0161 839 1111 or get in touch online.

Simple Things You Can Do to Make the Most of Your Pilgrimage

Sep 4, 2017   //   by admin   //   Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Simple Things You Can Do to Make the Most of Your Pilgrimage

 

With all the time and money that goes into organising a pilgrimage to Israel, it makes sense that you want to ensure you get the very most from your time in the Holy Land. There are a variety of spiritual and practical ways to prepare yourself as much as possible whilst on pilgrimage to a truly unforgettable, spiritual experience that’ll stay with you throughout your life.

 

Enjoy the new people you meet

Here at ITS Travel, we regularly hear of families becoming lifelong friends, having first met on pilgrimage. Pilgrimages have a great capacity to bring together like-minded people who want to learn the word of God and delve deeper into their relationship with Him.

 

Take time to reflect

As well as taking photographs and videos throughout your pilgrimage, remember to take a few moments here and there to soak in the wonders around you. Whilst you’ll be following an itinerary, you should have some time to take to yourself and breathe it in.

 

You’re a Christian, not just a tourist

Even though you’ve paid a lot of money to be in the Holy Land, you’re not just a tourist. Rather than experiencing your pilgrimage with a sense of entitlement, live God’s expectations of you, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. . . . If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” —Galatians 5:22–25

 

Make sure you can keep up

Time moves all too quickly when you’re on pilgrimage, and slow-moving groups have to drop great experiences from their itineraries. Usually people are straggling at the back because they either can’t meet the physical demands of a site or they’re too absorbed in the current moment and don’t look ahead.

 

If you’re worried that a site will be too physically demanding of you, we recommend having a quiet conversation with your guide to make sure it won’t be too tough for you to enjoy with the rest of the group.

 

Keep hydrated

The Holy Land is a very warm place, with glaring sunlight and you’re going to probably be active far more than you are in your day-to-day life. It’s essential that you drink enough water to avoid dehydration, and maintain your energy. For that reason, seeds, nuts and other trail snacks come in very handy.

 

Take a look at your itinerary before every day

Reviewing your daily itinerary the day before is the perfect way to understand the religious and historical importance of the places you’re going to visit, and you can focus your mind on looking forward to the spiritual experience you’re likely to have there. Another reason to check your itinerary the night before is so that you can plan quiet, devotional times to be with God and reflect on your faith.

 

Here at ITS Travel, we’re passionate about helping you to enjoy a life-changing pilgrimage that will cement your faith in God. For more information about our pilgrimages to the Holy Land, call us today on 0161 839 1111 or get in touch online.

 

Our Recommended Suppliers

Sep 4, 2017   //   by admin   //   Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Our Recommended Suppliers

Mr Adrian J. Cohen of ITS Pilgrimages – Educational Tour

Aug 24, 2017   //   by admin   //   Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on Mr Adrian J. Cohen of ITS Pilgrimages – Educational Tour

Adrian is the Managing Director of ITS Pilgrimages and has led multiple educational tours to numerous pilgrimage destinations.

This tour is designed for clergy and/ or lay leaders who wish to one day lead their own pilgrimage tour to Holy Land.

The basic cost of the tour will be refunded to the participants when he/she takes out their own pilgrimage tour with ITS PILGRIMAGES.

The tour is designed for the first time visitor and they will enjoy seeing the scriptures ‘come to life’.

Please note that each parish and /or potential leader is entitled to one place at the very special basic price of £440.00. For an accompanying spouse/companion, they pay the basic charge plus an additional supplement of £185.00 The single room supplement is £330.00 In addition to this each participant will have to pay airport taxes and current fuel surcharges – which are at the time of writing £275.00. There is also a small charge of £2.50 per person, which is the C.A.A. levy.

The group in size we expect to be 40/ 50 passengers.

We only allow one representative per church and it must be from a UK based church.

Please be advised that we adhere to a multi-denominational policy.

Allow me to remind you that this is an educational tour and so organised. All those involved – from the airline El Al, down to the guide are subsidising this tour – to enable you to see and enjoy the marvels of the Holy Land and to help you plan, one day in the near future, your own group your own tour.

Your on line booking form – is at ‘request’ status until verified by your completion of our application form (which we shall forward to you) and our written confirmation, where we shall request a non refundable deposit of £200.00 per person.

How Much do you Know about the Assumption of Mary?

Aug 11, 2017   //   by admin   //   Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on How Much do you Know about the Assumption of Mary?

The Assumption of Mary is an internationally celebrated Christian festival falling on the 15th August. Many Christians consider this day to be the day when the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven, having come to the end of her life of earth. In the past, the festival was celebrated with bonfires in the night and public illuminations and some cultures threw coins into the street in order to spread prosperity.

The colour blue is popular for the celebration, symbolising both truth and clarity, as well as being the traditional colour for both the Virgin Mary and Heaven. Lilies are also a common sight during the Assumption of Mary as they symbolise simplicity, purity and divinity.

How is the Assumption of Mary celebrated throughout the world?
In both the USA and Italy, streets are decorated in lights of different colours and there are fireworks in the night. Rome is home to the bowing procession, probably the most important event throughout the day, is where a statue of the Virgin Mary is taken through stunning archways of flowers towards another group of people holding a statue of Jesus, symbolising him waiting for her arrival in Heaven.

Similar events take place in Brazil and the procession of Our Lady of Navigators is a popular feast there, and in France the Assumption of Mary is seen as a monumental holiday.

Greece and the surrounding islands see the Assumption of Mary as a popular summer festival, and the small state of Andorra not only has a day of prayer, they have made the day a national holiday.

In Guatamala, the Assumption of Mary is celebrated by friends and family exchanging gifts and handing out food, as well as spending time together and organising large family feasts.

A global festival of love and peace
The Assumption of Mary is a festival focused on love and peace, celebrated by Christians all over the world with their own traditions and customs.

If you’re looking to go on pilgrimage during next year’s Assumption of Mary, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at ITS Travel today on 0161 839 1111 or get in touch online today.

FUN THROUGH FAITH IN THE HOLY LAND – ISRAEL

Jul 31, 2017   //   by admin   //   Suggested Itineraries, Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on FUN THROUGH FAITH IN THE HOLY LAND – ISRAEL

Day 1 UK – ISRAEL
Depart UK for Israel – the Holy Land. Arrive in the evening, where our local representatives, Diesenhaus – Unitours, will help you with the formalities at Ben Gurion Airport. After passing through customs you will be introduced to your guide and driver, who will be with you throughout your pilgrimage. Transfer to your hotel on the shores of the Mediterranean in Tel Aviv.

Day 2 JAFFA/JOPPA – THE DESERT
Visit Jaffa – Joppa is located south of Tel Aviv, the name Joppa appears for the first time in the list of cities that Thutmose III captured (15th century BC) The biblical references to Simon the Tanner and Cornelius the centurion are based here in Joppa. The legend of Andromeda being bound to the rock was first associated with Joppa by Strabo (1st century A.D.).

Jaffa is one of the oldest functioning harbours in the world. Today it harbours only small fishing boats. This was the port to which Jonah came when fleeing from the Lord to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3). For the construction of Solomon’s Temple, cedars were floated from Phoenicia to Joppa and then transported to Jerusalem (2 Chr 2:16). Jaffa was the main port of entry during the Turkish period and pilgrims and visitors would enter the Holy Land here

Then onwards to visit Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel, which is a Biblical garden and nature, preserve located near Modi’in, midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Onwards to Mini Israel is a miniature park located near Latrun, Israel in the Ayalon Valley. Opened in November 2002, the site contains miniature replicas of hundreds of buildings and landmarks in Israel.

Then drive to Kfar Hanokdim which is nestled in the Kana`im Valley in the Judean desert, between the city of Arad and the ancient citadel of Masada, there is a green oasis: Kfar Hanokdim. Picturesque guest rooms, goat hair Bedouin tents, spacious lodges made of local stone, and inviting niches for lingering under the dappled shade of the palm trees and orchards.

Ever since Kfar Hanokdim was established in 1991 it has provided high-level personalized hospitality that allows each guest to experience the desert in the way they choose. The Kfar is the perfect place for a desert vacation or for holding an unforgettable event in the heart of the wilderness of the Judean Desert. Dinner and overnight in the desert.

Day 3- CAMEL REK AND DEAD SEA
Enjoy a camel trek in the morning drive to Masada ascend by cable car. Tour this mountain top fortress, which was the last stronghold of the Jews against the Romans. Drive to a nearby oasis and relax and enjoy an opportunity to “float” in the Dead Sea Overnight a kibbutz of the shores of the Dead Sea.

Day 4- JERICHO – JERUSALEM
In the morning visit Qumran caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, onwards to Jericho the oldest inhabited city in the world and ascend by cable car the Mount of Temptation, before climbing to the eternal city of Jerusalem. Overnight Jerusalem – in the evening enjoy a tour of Jerusalem by night.

Day 5 JERUSALEM – BETHLEHEM
Visit the Garden Tomb, onwards to the Mount of Olives for a breathtaking view of the entire city. Walk down the traditional Palm Sunday route to the Church of All Nations and the Garden of Gethsemane. Continue our visit in the Christian Quarter; visit St Ann’s Crusader Church, Ecce Homo, Antonia Fortress, Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

In the afternoon we drive to the Manager Square in Bethlehem and visit the Church of the Nativity.

Before dinner visit The Time Elevator Jerusalem. This is a journey through the rich 3,000-year history of Jerusalem. Star of “Fiddler on the roof” Chaim Topol plays the lead character who amid crashing ceilings, leads us on an unforgettable journey moving through Jerusalem’s historic turning points: beginning with the City of David and ending in the 1967 Six- Day War.

Audiences will witness Prophet Jeremiah’s confrontation with King Zedekia and relive the destruction of the first and second temples. They will be led through the Roman conquest, the birth of Christianity, the emergence of Islam and the drama of the establishment of Israel. Combining motion based seating, visitors have the sensation of viewing the movie as a participant rather than a spectator.

Day 6 BIBLICAL EXPERIENCE – NAZARETH – SEA OF GALILEE
Depart Jerusalem and descend to the Sharon Plane and drive northwards towards The Galilee.

Visiting Kfar Kedem located in the lush hill country of the Galilee, in view of Nazareth and a stone’s throw from Sepphoris; Kfar Kedem recreates the day-to-day life of this ancient land. A hands-on experience, Kfar Kedem will transport you back to the roots of your heritage.

Ride the rolling hills as Abraham rode them. Take in the scents that Jacob smelled tending Laban’s flocks. Hear the words of the prophets as you thresh grain, make cheese, spin wool, press oil from fresh olives and wine from fresh grapes. You’ll even dress like them!

At Kfar Kedem the Galilee comes to life. Located at Hoshaya, Kfar Kedem creates a holistic experience using all your senses, involving you in the actual production of household staples such as milk, wool, and bread, and connecting these tangible experiences with the values and spirit of the ages from the time of the Bible that are still part of our lives today.

Your experience will be enriched with historical and spiritual context provided by our professional guides. Complete the experience with warm hospitality and delicious, rustic dining in our shepherds’ tent.

Visit Nazareth and pass through Kfar Cana– overnight on a kibbutz on the Shores of the Sea of Galilee

Day 7 BOAT TRIP – SEA OF GALILEE – HAMAT GADER – DECKS
Start the day with a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee. Visit Mt of Beatitudes and in the afternoon relax at Hamat Gader. This resort is one of the most unique places in the north of Israel.

Tucked away under the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) and eastward of the Jordan River, Hamat Gader featured a ton of unique attractions for all ages. The main attraction is obviously the thermal springs, which have been exploited by mankind since the Romans, some 2,000 years ago.

But there is more, Hamat Gader also hosts the only crocodile farm in all of the Middle East. Farwell dinner at one of Israel’s finest concept restaurants on the Shores of the Sea of Galilee – Decks. Overnight on a kibbutz on the Shores of the Sea of Galilee

Day 8 ISRAEL -UK
Depart Tiberias for Ben Gurion Airport via Caesarea Maritima – to see the excavations of the Crusader City and the Herodian Port. Onwards to Ben Gurion airport for your flight home.

1 night Tel Aviv
1 night Kfar Hanokdim Desert Experience
1 night Dead Sea Kibbutz
2 nights Jerusalem
2 nights Kibbutz on the Shores of the Sea of Galilee

Note: Suitable itinerary for youth groups, young at heart pilgrims and pilgrims who have visited before and are looking for new sites to visit and experience.

Need a quote for you group? Click here!

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