Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pilgrimaging Towards Hope

To pilgrimage:  to travel with a particular God-destination in mind, always moving forward towards that end place, the journey itself an act of devotion.

The first Christians were ‘followers’, as in followers of The Way.  Jesus reminds them and us that their hope is not to be in the knowing of the details; their hope and ours lies in the certainty of a destination they and we cannot see which comes at a time they and we cannot know.

When the arrival happens is of no matter at all.  That it will happen is everything.  So Jesus’ instructions are simple and clear: be ready.  Always.  Live every day as if the end of the journey were today, for the day you meet your Lord is always today.  As Meister Eckhart said in the 13th century, Between us and God, there is no between.

Life is our pilgrim journey, the gracious spaciousness of God where we devote ourselves to worship and devotion – the giving of our whole effort towards following in God’s ways.

Yet there is knowing even in the not knowing.  That is faith – the hope of things not seen, the reliance upon the Not Known.  Out of this hope-living pilgrimaging comes a gladness which has as its center the house of the Lord – the place where God dwells.  For the Israelites in Jesus’ time and before, that place was the temple in Jerusalem.  For us, that place is wherever we are, for the coming promise of Jesus is that God will not only live and dwell among us, but will and does live and dwell within us.

And so it is that we walk, each and every moment of each and every day, towards a destination, the destination of our lives.  We were made a walking, moving people . . . a pilgrimaging people . . . sure of our destination but having absolutely no idea how long it will take or what it’ll be like along the way . . . but always knowing we move, together and apart, towards the God who has been walking alongside us the entire time . . .

Like the people of Jesus’ own time, we’re tempted to think of ourselves as passengers, as along for the ride, crying from the back seat, are we there yet?  

But we are not passengers along for the ride . . . we are sojourners – travelers . . . pilgrims with a purpose, carrying nothing but the hope given us in what awaits . . .

It’s the hope of parents awaiting the birth of their child . . . the anticipation of seeing what has been prayed for for so long . . . the preparing that happens in the waiting . . . that so invites us into the re-celebration of Jesus’ own arrival on earth as a baby in a manger pointing always towards the peaceable kingdom of God’s holy mountain where all shall live in the geography of spaciousness and peace . . . the spaciousness that knows no separation . . . the peace that holds no fear of conflict . . . the hope that holds no bounds.

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