January 6, 2016
In This Issue
God Is Always Faithful on the Journey:  A Pilgrimage Message

The Diocese of Bethlehem's pilgrimage begins today. In his pilgrimage message, Bishop Sean says, "The Diocese of Bethlehem has been bold in conceiving its future ... This planning process is deeply rooted in both what is personal to us, and what is good for our entire diocese and our entire region."

Anna Thomas Blogs Christmas
If you followed Anna Thomas's pilgrimage blog during the Christmas season, you know how active she is in the Diocese of Bethlehem and how much the Episcopal Church means to her.

"I'm an Episcopalian largely because of how much I love liturgy," says Thomas, who is a lifelong member of Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, and is a junior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. "I love the process and the practice of going to church and using the whole service as an opportunity to meditate."
In 2015, she was a member of the youth representation at the Episcopal Church's General Convention in Salt Lake City.

Many Little Epiphanies:  Han van den Blink Blogs Epiphany
The Rev. Dr. Han van den Blink doesn't use social media. He's never blogged before, and you certainly won't find him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr or any other networking sites. So it's a real gift to the Diocese of Bethlehem that you can read his thoughts and reflections as part of the diocese's pilgrimage blog during the first half of Epiphany.

He intentionally has avoided social media in the past, saying, "I have a real reticence to being exposed, because being exposed is dangerous."

He knows of which he speaks.

Van den Blink, who serves as priest-in-charge of St. Paul's Troy, was born of Dutch missionary parents in 1934 in Java, Indonesia, where, from ages nine through 11, he was interred in Japanese concentration camps. From there he was moved into an Indonesian concentration camp (better than the Japanese camps for food; worse for fear of being the victim of a massacre, he says) before finally being released as part of a prisoner of war exchange.

"In the camps, you didn't want to be exposed," he says. "You didn't want to be noticed"

Read more about Han van den Blink, and look for his blog posts starting January 7.
Preparing for Pilgrimage:  Blog Post and Discussion Questions
To begin our pilgrimage study and reflection, the Rev. Canon Maria Tjeltveit of the Church of the Redeemer in Allentown has written a reflection on pilgrimage and prepared discussion questions.

"The Biblical Hebrew word translated 'pilgrimage' in the King James translation of the Bible is based on the verb (gur) to 'sojourn'--to dwell for a definite or indefinite time, to abide as a new-comer without original rights. So, in Biblical terms, pilgrimage is more about staying in one place, but not being of that place, than it is about moving.

"On the other hand, we think of pilgrimage as being about moving, going from one place to another. In the Jewish tradition, the specific pilgrimage to Jerusalem is called Aliya larāgel, which literally means to 'go up (Aliya) with the legs (or feet).' This pilgrimage is an occasion for which people pick up their feet and go somewhere.

"As we enter into this time of pilgrimage, both the images of picking up our feet and going somewhere--setting out on a journey of faith--and dwelling in a place where we may not be entirely at home, can speak to us in our diocese."

Find the entire reflection and the discussion questions on the website.
Pilgrimage Prayer and Blessing
Collect of Pilgrimage

God of Journeys, as you led and nourished your ancient people though the wilderness, give us the courage to set off on pilgrimage to seek the forms and styles of life and ministry you have prepared for us.  You call us to leave familiar things and leave our "comfort zone." Guide our footsteps, open our eyes to new experiences, open our ears to hear you speaking to us, touch our imaginations, and clear our vision that we may become the people you would have us to be.  We ask this in the name of Jesus, who travels always with us.  Amen.


May God the Father who created you, guide your footsteps;
May God the Son who redeemed you, share your journey;
May God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you, lead you on life's pilgrimage; and,
The blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be with you wherever you may go. Amen.

Stay Connected to the Pilgrimage

During 2016, the pilgrimage page on the website will be updated regularly--you can find it under "Congregational Resources" on the menu--and our newsletters will feature pilgrimage information and news each month. Anyone can sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter and/or our monthly Leadership News
, and back issues are available on the website. Please share these links with members of your congregation, encourage them to visit the website and sign up for the newsletter list, and share pilgrimage news and articles in your congregation's newsletter and bulletin.

The Bethlehem Episcopalians Facebook group will also be home to ongoing pilgrimage discussion. Find the group on Facebook and request membership to join the conversation.

To learn more about upcoming plans for the pilgrimage and the work of congregational shepherds, read this letter from pilgrimage leaders the Very Rev. Tony Pompa and the Rev. Charles Cesaretti.

Stay Connected