“ We are invited to make a pilgrimage, into the heart and life of God.” Dallas Willard.
“As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow.” A.C. Benson.
Our theme for the year ahead – 2016-17 is one of pilgrimage, a sacred journey with God, to wherever he might call. We are very familiar with this idea from John Bunyan’s book Pilgrim’s Progress from 1678, when he writes about Christian, an everyman character, who has to travel through life to get to the Celestial City, facing various temptations and obstacles along the way. It is a fascinating book.
In many ways we forget that, for all those who believe in Jesus Christ, we are making our way to our ultimate destination – heaven itself. Our life is just a journey, where we make our way through life, with God as our Guide and Companion along the road.
On Saturday 3rd of September, some of our congregation went on a pilgrimage day to Luss, on Loch Lomond. It was a bit of a grey, rainy day, yet we went to find out a little about St Kessog, who lived and witnessed to Jesus’ love in the Loch Lomond area and into the Trossachs, around 510-530 AD. It was a good day, when we remembered that travelling with companions is a blessing in itself, as is eating together. We had times of getting lost, of exploring, of finding new ways, or seeing great beauty – the Loch in the mist – and of sharing with one another. It was brilliant to find the pilgrimage walk in the glebe at the Church of Scotland church in Luss, and to see the massive Celtic cross and the remembrance garden. It was a time to rediscover something of our Celtic roots, and to think of Luss as a place where Christians had worshipped for over 1,500 years. It was indeed a sacred journey.
And so our pilgrimage theme for the year ahead has three components:
Rediscovering our roots – a day away at Luss to think of St Kessog, and then two shorter outings, one to see the standing stones at Govan, and one to Glasgow cathedral. Watch out for dates for these two trips coming up!
Hospitality – themes of welcome; how we can get to know one another better, and show hospitality of the heart to one another, and to people in the parish.
Reflection on how we journey with God. Thinking of what it means to journey with God will be central to our book group – as we look at the book Sensible shoes, by Sharon Garlough Brown. The group can be joined at anytime. It is great to have this new initiative, every second Saturday morning, helping us look at the process of spiritual formation.
As a church family and as individuals, we all need to seek the direction of God to see where He is leading us. The journeying can be challenging, exciting, frustrating, bewildering, yet we know we can trust God to lead us.
Whatever the year ahead brings, may we pray for and support one another, and know that God is leading us on a pilgrimage, and that He will bless us with His presence. And so we close with the words of the Celtic blessing:
“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”