From Pilgrim to Missionary
LTC Chev. Steven Lund, KCTJ
Priory of the Christian Soldier

Greetings Fellow Knights:

Every year since becoming a Templar I saw numerous notices of the Annual GPUSA Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. And every year … until this one … I hesitated to step forward and make my commitment. My motivation to go was my faith, my love of history, and the strong bond that I feel with the members of the Order. But the final factor was a conversation with my friend, Chev. Sandy Mayuga, a participant in the 2017 Pilgrimage from my priory. That conversation convinced me that the time was ripe. I asked myself “If not now, when?” I now look back and realize that it was the best decision that I have made in decades

The support and guidance provided by GPUSA were excellent in every respect. Grand Prior Clay Kemmerer and Grand Registrar Dave Schorn provided us with extensive information that allowed us to prepare for the Pilgrimage, including logistics. They anticipated most of our questions and when we had other questions, all were answered helpfully. Perhaps most importantly was our spiritual preparation, under the guidance of the Grand Chaplain, the Right Reverend Bishop CAPT Chev. James Magness, D. Min., SCTJ. His insights were deep, profound and inspirational. He set the spiritual tone for the entire Pilgrimage.

As I have grown older, I had come to view my Faith as “mature.” Doing so can easily lead one to become smug and judgmental. But this Pilgrimage was a truly humbling experience. In each church setting one found oneself surrounded by people of various levels of faith and commitment. But what I found with my fellow GPUSA Pilgrims was a group of people with a profound commitment to the ideals of Christian charity and a deep and abiding faith. It was a tangible feeling as we experienced the many Holy Sites and educational institutions together. At the end of the Pilgrimage, I came away with the feeling that our GPUSA Pilgrims were a group of courageous and committed Christians. I will always feel humble in their presence.

And the on-site spiritual guidance and celebrations provided by the clergy in our group of Pilgrims, Bishop James Magness and the Reverend Anne Fraley, made this Pilgrimage a “spiritual experience of a lifetime” for me.

Certainly one could rattle off the significant places we visited, such as the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Qumran, Masada and Petra. But what will remain most vivid in my memory for the rest of my life were our religious experiences: Walking the stations of the cross along the Via Dolorosa with one or more of our Pilgrims reading the appropriate scripture at each station; evening prayers and discussions of the day’s events each and every night; and renewing our baptismal vows at the site where Jesus himself was baptized -- all experiences that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.

Attending religious services at Holy Sites and receiving Holy Communion at some of them were truly extraordinary experiences. One of the most moving of these experiences for me was taking Communion in a small crypt within the Church of the Nativity. The closeness and intimacy of the surroundings and the fact that we were less than 100 feet from the site where our Lord Jesus was born left me unable to speak. (See the picture to the right) To be able to worship in this manner has brought my Faith to a level that I had never thought the site in the Church of the Nativity venerated as the location possible.

Let me conclude by expressing my gratitude to all those who made this experience possible for we Pilgrims. For my part I feel that I journeyed to the Holy Land a Pilgrim … and returned a Missionary.

nnDnn

 

January 2019
Regular publication of SMOTJ GPUSA

In This Issue

  A Word from the Grand Prior

  Milwaukee - 2019

  Cross of the Four Apostles

  From Pilgrim to Missionary

  SMOTJ Scholarship Program

  Heraldic Services

  Priory News

  GPUSA Calendar

(Left) Rami Salfity and Grand Registrar Dave Schorn at the C&I of the Preceptory of the Holy Land



The site in the Church of the Nativity venerated as the location where Christ was born.



Non Nobis, Domine, Non Nobis, Sed Nomini Tuo Da Gloriam ®

   
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