In hymn 209 in The Hymnal 1982, Henry Alford (1810-1871) offers perfect words about pilgrimage and the daily faith walk: We walk by faith, and not by sight; no gracious words we hear from him who spoke as none e’er spoke; but we believe him near. We may not touch his hands and side, nor follow where he trod; but in his promise we rejoice; and cry, “My Lord and God!” Help then, O Lord, our unbelief; and may our faith abound, to call on you when you are near, and seek where you are found: that, when our life of faith is done, in realms of clearer light we may behold you as you are, with full and endless sight.
A pilgrimage is an intentional journey into the sacred, an embrace of the holy ordinary of life. Often, I have heard and know I believe that life is a pilgrimage. It also is a deeper engagement of God through holy places that help us to know God better. Christian pilgrimages first were made to historical sites connected with the birth, life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and to specific places where Christian foremothers and forefathers have walked by faith. Today, youth and adults through formation programs such as Journey to Adulthood (J2A) make pilgrimages primarily away from familiar cultural and national contexts after several years of togetherness in a parish church community.
I am privileged to be one of five adults to lead fifteen youth from St. Peter’s in Italy (Milan, Assisi, Rome) from June 25 until July 4. More, I am grateful to our parish church family for the prayers and provisions that will make possible our journey. Let us all hold one another in prayer wherever our daily pilgrimages take us and remember that God is present in all things, especially as we walk by faith.
Blessings and peace on the way….
The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector