Rev. Amber has issued a grand invitation to step outside our church doors into A Year of Pilgrimage—Walking the Way of Jesus. She reminds us that this invitation is central to the Christian experience. Please read on to hear her heart for our community, and then to listen for God’s call to put on our pilgrim shoes.
Dear Fellow Pilgrims,
Abraham and Sarah heard the voice of God calling them to leave the familiar country of their birth and to go on a pilgrimage to a land that they did not know and there they became sojourners. Their willingness to take the risk to leave what was familiar to them and to walk toward the unknown changed their lives and they grew in faith and learned to put their security and trust in God, not in the things of this world.
In the Gospels, Jesus invites us to “come and see” the place where he lives, that is the state of consciousness that he inhabits in the kingdom of heaven; he invites us with the words, “follow me” to leave the limited state of consciousness that we inhabit for a greater and higher way of seeing, being, and living in relationship with God. He invites us into a relationship of intimacy and total trust with “abba” (daddy) because he wants us to have the same richness and rest he experiences with God. Jesus is leading us from a state of fear to a state of inner peace.
We are embarking on a year of pilgrimage, both local and afar, as a means of drawing closer to God. When we embody the act of faith externally by visiting sacred spaces we begin to understand the real meaning of following Jesus Christ. The movement of the body in walking and traveling captures what is happening in our souls when we choose to reorient ourselves towards the divine. When we set our foot on pilgrimage, we are literally turning away from the world as a life focus and putting our attention on Jesus Christ, the sacred space of transformation. As the saying goes, where our attention goes is where the energy flows. If we are focused solely on our ambitions, problems and cares of this world and are trying to find a solution on the same level we will continually be frustrated and unfulfilled; however, when we turn our gaze toward God, seeking first the kingdom, and place our attention and energy there, we raise our consciousness and place ourselves in an open position to receive the fulfillment of our gifts and the wisdom needed to address our challenges.
If we choose to follow Jesus Christ, we are called to be pilgrims and sojourners in this world because God’s kingdom is not of this world. French philosopher and Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin says, “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.”
As we prepare to visit holy places, take some time to prepare your heart for the pilgrim’s way, asking yourself the following questions: What/Who is drawing you to go on pilgrimage? What is stirring within you? What is attracting you to a pilgrimage?
You may want to journal about your experience or share your insights with a spiritual friend. Acknowledge your intention and carry it with you in prayer. We will take time for reflection together during each pilgrimage. On your own, please read the book, The Road to Emmaus — Pilgrimage as a Way of Life by Jim Forest.
I look forward to going on pilgrimage with you this year. May it deepen our relationships with one another and may we grow in our faith in God. May our hearts and souls be transformed and may we see and experience this sacred world in a new and expanded way.
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.