Reflections from Epiphany

January 16, 2025 - January 25, 2025
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Journey Overview

Join us as a fellow traveler on our Reflections from Epiphany purposeful journey richly highlighted by encounters with sights central to the life, ministry, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Reflections from Epiphany will offer you a truly unique opportunity to explore a fascinating spectrum of historical sights, theological contexts, and biblical background in the Holy Land. Your journey is sure to deepen your faith and enrich your life as we consider our perspective in light of a distant past that continues to form and shape who we are as Christians today. We will balance our deeply spiritual, sometimes heady religious encounters with spectacular accommodations, excellent food as a window to middle eastern culture past and present, wine tasting, shopping experiences, culture, and history.

Your Host for Our Journey

Our host for Reflections from Epiphany will be Pastor Rich Elseroad. Pastor Rich will embark on this journey as a special opportunity to share in celebrating his more than four decades of parish ministry including three decades as pastor to the people of God at Grace Lutheran Church. As Pastor Elseroad prepares for his retirement from parish ministry, he looks forward to reflecting on a lifetime of ministry by sharing with his fellow travelers the experience of the most significant sights and places in the birth, life, teaching, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

When the first Christmas took place more than 2,000 years ago, we know from God’s Word joy and excitement were palpable. The Magi later followed the star to the place where Jesus was born. The visit of the Magi reminds us that revelation was required for humanity to comprehend the fuller meaning of the birth of Christ. Thus, Epiphany marks the season in the church year when the fuller meaning of the birth of Christ is revealed.

From his first days serving the people of God as pastor to his preparation for retirement, the power and sweetness of the Gospel has deepened for Pastor Rich and those he has served. This journey offers a wonderful opportunity to reflect with Pastor Rich on the revelation of Christ so that all who join him in the Holy Land may be an even greater blessing to others.

Pastor Rich has been Senior Pastor of Grace since November of 1993. He is married to Susie (originally from Kankakee, Illinois), and they have four children: Stephanie, Stuart, Stanton and Steven. He founded Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Gardendale, Alabama and served there from 1979 to 1993. Pastor Rich is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and graduated from Valparaiso University, Indiana in 1975 and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri in 1979. He loves being a pastor and especially teaching the Adult Inquiry Class and seeing people become Christians for the first time or recommitting themselves to Jesus Christ.

Pastor Rich earned his Bachelor of Arts at Valparaiso University in 1975. He graduated from Concordia Seminary—St. Louis in 1979.

Day 1 – Wheels up!
Thursday, January 16, 2025

We depart on our group flight from Nashville International Airport, Chicago to Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Day 2 – Welcome to Galilee
Friday, January 17, 2025

After our arrival in Israel, we will travel north to the ancient Roman city of Caesarea where we will visit the ruins, including the Roman theater and impressive archaeological park. We will then proceed to nearby Mount Carmel where Elijah the Prophet won a competition with the prophets of Baal and enjoy a beautiful, rooftop panoramic view. If time allows, we will visit Tel Megiddo, site of the ancient city of Megiddo and the Valley of Armageddon, before making our way to our stunningly beautiful hotel—Hotel Magdala—in the Galilee region. D

Day 3 – From Nazareth to Cana
Saturday, January 18, 2025

After a wonderful breakfast, we will visit Magdala´s first century synagogue before continuing to Nazareth where we will visit the Basilica of the Annunciation. We will experience Nazareth Village, built on ancient agricultural land, where life in Galilee in the time of Jesus is reenacted featuring houses, terraced fields, wine, and olive presses. Our day will conclude in Cana where Jesus preformed his first miracle; turning water into wine at a wedding. B, D

Day 4 – Fishes, Loaves, and Sea Life
Sunday, January 19, 2025

After breakfast, we will drive along the shores of the Sea of Galilee to the Yigal Allon museum, where we will see the ancient fishing boat from the 1st century AD (also known as the “Jesus Boat”). After sailing across the Sea of Galilee on a modern wooden boat, we continue to Capernaum, where Jesus lived and started his ministry. In Capernaum, we will see the remnants of Peter’s mother-in-law’s house and the old synagogue where Jesus preached. We will enjoy a special St. Peter fish lunch before continuing to Tabgha, where the miracle of Multiplication of the Fish and Loaves took place. We will visit the Church of Primacy of St. Peter before proceeding to the Mount of Beatitudes (location of the Sermon on the Mount), and time permitting, visit Kursi National Park (Gadara), an archaeological site where according to tradition, Jesus performed the “Miracle of the Swine.” Our day ends at Yardenit, a popular baptismal location in the Jordan River. B,D

Day 5 – Perspectives Ancient and Modern
Monday, January 20, 2025

Our daily excursion begins with a visit of Korazim where we will see the ruins of a first century town condemned by Jesus. We will also visit the impressive fourth century synagogue before traveling north to the beautiful Tel Dan nature reserve that includes an archaeological site from biblical times. We continue to the nearby Banias (Caesarea Philippi). Here we will see the capital of Galilee in Jesus’ time, the remains of pagan temples, and one of the sources of the Jordan river where Jesus met the apostles. We will then venture to the Golan Heights to see the strategic borders overlooking the Valley of the Tears and learn about Israel’s unique security situation. We will stop at a local winery for a tour and wine tasting before returning to our hotel. B, D

Day 6 - From the Jordan Valley to Jerusalem
Tuesday, January 21, 2025

Today, we transition to Jerusalem. After breakfast, we travel south to visit Gideon’s Spring before continuing to Beit Shean, the largest excavated Roman city in the Middle East with fabulous ruins dating to the Roman empire. As we wander among the extensive ruins, including a well-preserved grand amphitheater, our imaginations will be transported to the time of Jesus among the Romans. We continue south to Jericho where we will travel by cable car to enjoy magnificent views on our way to visit the monastery at Mount of Temptations. We continue to Jerusalem where will be welcomed at the beautiful Dan Panorama Hotel in Jerusalem. B, D

Day 7 - Historical Perspective and a Miraculous Birth
Wednesday, January 22, 2025

Today, we will venture beyond the city walls of Jerusalem. We begin with a tour of the Jewish Quarter where we will walk through the picturesque streets including the Cardo, built during the Byzantine era. We will make our way to the last remaining vestige of the once monumental Second Temple—the Western Wall—where we will soak in the inspirational atmosphere steeped in rich Jewish history. We will navigate the fascinating subterranean Western Wall Tunnels, as a continuation of the open-air Western Wall that reaches segments which are hidden from view. The underground passages present exquisite archeological findings. We can touch the original and special stones that tell the story of the Jewish nation. In the afternoon, we visit the birthplace of Jesus—Bethlehem. We will have the opportunity to visit the fields where the angels announced to the birth of the Christ Child to the shepherds. We will visit the Church of the Nativity which stands upon the site where Jesus was born, Mary’s Grotto and St. Jerome’s Cave before we return to central Jerusalem. B, D

Day 8 – The Garden and Upper Room
Thursday, January 23, 2025

After breakfast, we will visit the Mt. of Olives where we can enjoy the magnificent view of the Old City of Jerusalem from the same vantage point as Jesus. We will have the opportunity to learn of Jerusalem’s rich history including many important structures in the city. We will then visit the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mt. of Olives, before we continue to Mt. Zion, where you will visit King David’s Tomb, the Upper Room (site of the Last Supper), and church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu. We will enter the Old City through the Lions Gate where we can visit St. Anne’s Church and Pool of Bethesda. We will retrace the steps of Jesus steps through the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Our walk through the colorful and authentic Arab Markets scattered around the Old City will present an opportunity to practice our negotiating skills by bargaining skills with the local peddlers. B, D

Day 9 – The Dead Sea
Friday, January 24, 2025

We depart Jerusalem after breakfast to journey south through the remarkable scenery of the Dead Sea. We pass by Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls where discovered. On our way to Massada we will pass by En Gedi, where David hid from Saul. We will visit the Masada fortress, a UNESCO heritage site and a symbol of the ancient kingdom of Israel, which is situated on an isolated cliff in the Judean Desert, a site of a unique heroic story of Jewish Zealots who chose death over surrendering to the Romans. We will ascend by cable car to visit the excavations of King Herod’s palace, the synagogue, bathhouse and much more. We will enjoy the breathtaking views of the Roman camps and the Dead Sea before we descend to make our way to one of the beaches of the Dead Sea to “float” in its heavy, mineral-rich water and cover in the Dead Sea mud to absorb its therapeutic qualities. B, D

Day 10 – Our Humanity and Hope
Saturday, January 25, 2025

Our excursion today begins with an emotional visit to, the holocaust memorial– Yad VaShem Museum—located on the slopes of Har HaZikaron (Mount of Remembrance). We will have the opportunity to contemplate what it means for us to live as Christians today as we encounter the story of the holocaust as experienced by Jewish victims and survivors as told through original artifacts, testimonies, and personal possessions. We will explore  the Israel Museum that has an amazing collection of objects and artifacts including a detailed model of Jerusalem from the time of the Second Temple and the Shrine of the Book which holds the ancient Jewish manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls. We return to the Old City of Jerusalem where we will visit the City of David which is the main site where archaeological finds from the First Temple period are found. We continue to a wet or dry (depending on your preference) walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel which is the ancient water system of Jerusalem believed to be from the 8th century BC. We continue to the Davidson Center, an archaeological park where you can see significant findings from the First and Second Temple periods, such as an ancient city street, the steps leading to the Temple, and the First century city walls. We end the day with an emotional visit to the Garden Tomb, walk in the beautiful garden and see the ancient empty tomb. B, D

Day 11 – The Formal End to our Purposeful Journey
Sunday, January 26, 2025

The memories will indeed last a lifetime. Our journey will continue with our new friends (or continues to Egypt on the optional extension). Our journey concludes with the departure of our flight home, or continues with an exciting journey to Egypt, for those who choose that option.

B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included


This purposeful journey begins during the season of Epiphany which marks the season in the church year when the fuller meaning of the birth of Christ is revealed. Our purposeful journey is named for the event recorded in Matthew 2:1-12 when the magi follow the star to the place where Jesus was born.

Fellow travelers will come to this journey with a familiarity with the story of the magi and many other Bible stories which they have heard their whole lives. The purpose of this journey is to encounter the places and sights where these stories unfolded in history. Your beautiful, fascinating journey through Israel will lead you to places you have likely heard about, read about, and discussed with others as part of experiences in Sunday school or Bible study groups. While pictures, videos, and other media may give us a sense of significance of the many places you will see on your journey, being in the presence of sights central to the life, ministry, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus offers a unique potential to deepen your life in faith.

When we pause to reflect on our sources of inspiration; the places we have visited that have influenced and shaped our perspective, there are likely places and experiences we can name with certainty. Following the Star was created to provide multiple encounters with places sure to deepen your faith and enrich your life as we consider our perspective in light of a distant past that continues to form and shape who we are as Christians today.

This purposeful journey will balance deeply spiritual, sometimes heady religious encounters with spectacular accommodations, excellent food as a window to middle eastern culture past and present, wine tasting, shopping experiences, culture, and history.

Our Philosophy

We hope you will measure the quality of your journey not by the quantity of sights you see, but by the invaluable experiences you absorb.

Balance of stimulating experience, serious reflection…and just plain fun.

One word describes our intention for your journey: balance. We believe each place we visit should relate to whole story, the arc of a narrative. We believe in creating journeys formed and shaped as narratives; journeys that are serious, purposeful, and fulfilling with time to reflect with fellow travelers or alone while providing opportunity for experiences that are just plain fun.

Expert interaction and rich personal encounters

Rather than a trip led by a tour guide trained to disseminate information from a script, we endeavor to seek experts to lead you on a journey who are available as a resource for as much depth as you desire or to leave you to your own reflection.

One beautiful base location

Too often, group travel can leave you feeling like you are part of a herd of a large group of strangers hustled from sight to sight, packing and unpacking every day of your trip. With us you will stay in one beautiful base location that serves as a base for our excursions. Changing hotels as few times as possible during a journey allows greater opportunity to experience people and culture.

Meticulously planned; yet flexible journey

How does a trip become a journey? Carefully selected excursions that form a narrative, staying in one beautiful base location, with time and flexibility for reflection, and activities that are just plain fun.

Cuisine as a delectable complement to culture and conversation

Cuisine, and the wonderful dining experiences we share in an eclectic array of venues, provide a delectable complement to your rich encounters with the culture and the delightful conversation you enjoy with fellow travelers.


Flight Information

Purposeful Journeys will arrange a group flight departing from a major airport, most likely Nashville International Airport—Nashville, Tennessee. While the specific price of the group flight cannot be determined until the flights are booked, based on current market conditions, flights will likely cost around $1,250.

Hotel Accommodations

We will change hotels only once after arriving in Tel Aviv. Arrangements have been made at the beautiful Hotel Magdala in the Galilee region. In Jerusalem, our cohort of fellow travelers will be staying at the spectacular Leonardo Plaza Hotel Jerusalem.


Most meals you are likely to desire are included in this purposeful journey. We believe that dining experiences offer a window into the local culture. Breakfast and Dinner is included each day with only a couple of noted exceptions in the itinerary. Meals provide time for us to relax, take in the culture, and discuss all that we have seen and experienced as fellow travelers that day. See the current, tentative itinerary for details.

Ground Transportation

Transfers to and from the arrival flight into and departing flight from Europe will be provided. Other ground transportation will be provided throughout the journey.

Sightseeing and Events

This purposeful journey includes several premium sight seeing opportunities and tours. As details emerge, specific information will be shared with fellow travelers.

A Miraculous Journey Land Only Cost—$4,300
(Up to $600 in discounts available!)

Current Incentives:
  • Save $300 with a special journey host discount code
  • Apply by the early application deadline and save $150 (see your journey host for details)
  • Save $150 if you choose to settle your balance prior to the due date of your first payment
Your journey includes:
  • Taxes and airline surcharges
  • Deluxe coach transportation throughout your itinerary
  • Double occupancy hotel room ($1,100 single supplement)
  • Meals as specified in the final itinerary
  • Admission fees as specified in the final itinerary
  • Only goods, services, or activities as explicitly included in the General Terms and Conditions.
Your journey does not include:
  • Round trip airfare
  • Gratuities for service staff, coach driver(s) and guides
  • Alcoholic beverages, bottled water, after dinner drinks
  • Travel insurance
  • Any goods, services, or activities expressly excluded in the General Terms and Conditions.
Remittance Schedule:
  • Deposit of $150 is due with your application.
  • Once your application is approved, you will receive an invoice/statement that reflects your choice for settling your balance. Your first payment will be due approximately 60 days after your application has been approved.
  • If you choose to avail yourself of the Pay-in-Full discount, you must settle your balance in full before your first payment is due as reflected on your invoice/statement.
  • If you choose to make payments, your payments will be divided into monthly payments with a final payment due as specified on your invoice/statement.
  • Payments will become due as specified in your remittance schedule.
  • Final payment must be received no later than the date specified on your invoice/statement and remittance schedule.
When approved as a fellow traveler…

…you will receive an invoice and a remittance schedule from Malone Clan Expeditions, LLC along with a link to a password protected page on our website that will offer details and updates about your journey.

General Terms and Conditions

Malone Clan Expeditions, LLC will administer your journey. You must accept the General Terms and Conditions at the time you submit your application. Please refer to the General Terms and Conditions for any applicable additional fees that may apply in certain situations and circumstances such as any deviation from the group flight itinerary or your requirement of a single room.

We cordially invite you to apply to join us as a fellow traveler

Please complete the application form. You will be prompted to submit a payment deposit of $150 (regularly $300) with your application once your form is complete with all required fields. We are delighted you are taking the step of submitting your application to become a member of a journey with us. We look forward to notifying you of your acceptance as a fellow traveler.

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