parkdale united church

429 Parkdale Avenue, OTTAWA, Ontario K1Y 1H3

September 2017

Pilgrimage

 

By Anthony Bailey

 

God is with us in every pass, Jesus is with us on every hill,

Spirit is with us on every stream, headland and ridge

and lawn;

Each sea and land, each moor and meadow,

Each lying down, each rising up,

In the trough of the waves, on the crest of the billows,

Each step of the journey we take.

(Adapted from Carmina Gadelica)

 

 

The whole notion of pilgrimage is not new; it is an ancient human tradition. It is an intentional act of departure from the ordinary into an experience that may be called sacred, or significant, or reflective, or cathartic; perhaps all of these.

 

Pilgrimage is embedded in the Christian faith tradition

and in the traditions of our neighbours of other faiths.

Sacred pilgrimage is a form of faith development that

involves both spiritual discernment and action. As such,

it is both a destination and a process.

       (World Council of Churches)

 

My near 900 km pilgrimage on the Camino de Compostela in northern Spain was a sacred time of reflection, wrestling, prayer and embodied awareness of the splendour, mysteriousness and humour of God. The Spanish vistas were breathtaking. The physical challenge was real and near constant (especially walking with a slight injury). The people I met and the hosting of one another’s stories turned out to be sacred and profound encounters. I am still relishing, reminiscing and discerning the experiences and reflecting on their significance. I am feeling that it is still premature to speak in detail about my journey and what I am still experiencing and reflecting on.

 

I am grateful for having in some way accomplished one of my other sabbatical goals which was to reconnect with and in some cases spend more time with close and extended family and friends. This included trips to Toronto, Montreal and a vacation in Newfoundland. In the case of the latter, it was the only province that Wendy and I had not visited. We enjoyed the wonderful people of that province, the puffin and whale-watching, and a number of the historical sites around St John’s as well as in the central and western regions of the island.

 

The truth is however, we do not have to go away to be on a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage can be any journey that is intentionally put in God’s hands. In can be an internal intentional reflective exercise that is undertaken by an individual or even a community of individuals. As a Parkdale United community of faith, the idea of journeying together in worship, fellowship, study, prayer and outreach in step with the way of Jesus, can be another kind of pilgrimage. Walking with God and finding God in our conversations, activities and reflections as we do life together can be a way of growing in Christian maturity, in love and support of each other, and in faithfulness.

 

May I invite all of us, as we commence another ministry and program year, to intentionally – as a community of faith and as individual members of this community – place our journey of faith, study, mission, outreach, prayer and witness in God’s hands.  Like the disciples both on the Emmaus Road and in the subsequent meal with Jesus (Luke 24:13-31), let us be open to encountering a surprising Jesus; let us return again to Scriptures and see what Christ is disclosing; let us pray, worship, fellowship and reach out together and behold what wondrous things God has in store for us and for our contribution to the blessing of our neighbourhood and our city.

 

As a congregation, we are grateful to receive Rev. Alcris Limongi, our new pastoral care minister, into this fellowship of Parkdale United Christ-followers, and look forward to how God will use her and her leadership here to advance the faithfulness and reach of our ministry in service to God’s Mission. While away, I became even more persuaded of how special this Parkdale community of faith is, and how important our presence, and our ministry is. I have also heard repeatedly in my Camino walk and prayer times: GET GOING (and no this wasn’t a prompt to get up in the morning lest I oversleep in the hostels). We are so blessed with the resources of location, faith, people, gifts, leadership, commitment, and joy, that I believe much is expected of us as we serve God’s purposes in our neighbourhood, city and beyond. “To whom much has been given….and entrusted with much, much more will be required.” (Luke 12:48)

 

So let us prayerfully discern in what way (s) we are to GET GOING!

 

Peace and Joy

Anthony

 

 PS. I give God thanks for all of you who in large and small ways contributed to and sustained the ministry and witness of our congregation while I was away. I am not surprised at this, I am grateful.