Friday, 2 March 2012

From Pilgrimage to Pilgrimage

I was in the Holy Land for 10 days in February - the first time I'd been back since living in Jerusalem for 9 months in 1977 - 1978, a "gap year" between university and theological college. It's going to take some time before I can properly absorb all the experiences of just over a week into which we packed so much. All credit to our leaders, Dominic Barrington, Robert Lawrance and Paul Kennington - and to Lightline Pilgrimages!

I took an excessive number of photographs! - and still haven't had time to sort them out. The first one (of over a thousand) above this text made me think. Had I taken the picture by accident? Obviously it's a picture taken through a rain-flecked bus window, but why is its apparent subject a modern housing estate with traffic island and road markings to boot? I had to look more carefully. The clue is in the background - it's a hill, more specifically Mount Tabor, traditionally identified with the Mount of the Transfiguration.

Special place as it is, the site of something sacred is in the midst of the  everyday. I'd been to the bottom of the hill in 1978 - during a day trip out of Jerusalem to the Galilee. It'll take too long to go up there, said the driver that day. If we go up there'll we'll have to miss something else out - like Nazareth. 34 years later I've now been up the hill. The temptation at the top was to start clicking away with my camera - to rush around looking at the sights. But our leaders wouldn't let us go straight into the church. We had to pray first - as we did round an outside altar at our first Eucharist of a wonderful pilgrimage. It was to be the pattern for the rest of our time together. Pray first, then look.

I'm back into the everyday busy-ness of parish life now, rather like the disciples who accompanied Jesus at his Transfiguration had to go back down the mountain. But it's time for another pilgrimage - through Lent. We can make our pilgrimages wherever we may be. But sometimes we have to go some distance and return to discover it...

Meanwhile I've been catching up with updates to our parish website. Our new Parish Magazine for March has been uploaded. And there are a number of new sermons / homilies which you can access from the dedicated page on this blog - my most recent offering, for the First Sunday of Lent is here.

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