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Communion Meditations (2016)

Pilgrimage

Originally scheduled for March 6

A common experience among our ancestors was the pilgrimage. They considered certain places to be sacred; very often the burial place of a saint. So pilgrimage was simply the act of going to a sacred place. A pilgrimage was not without its problems:

·         At the very least, you were at risk of being alone on the road. In those days, you would walk. At times it would seem there was no one else you could count on for help.

·         If you aren’t alone, you’re with someone. That might not be the someone you had in mind; robbers were not unknown on the road.

·         And you were definitely going to have sore feet.

To make this trip there were a few things you were going to need. There were some physical items — a staff, a stout backpack and rations along the way, though you would pick up most of your food from vendors along the road. You also needed a map of some sort; often not to scale and just listing the main points along the road. Because of that you also needed something else: a way to know where you are. Road rallyists call it a checkpoint. There is that moment of relief when you look up at the road signs and say, “aha! Now I know where we are!”

One of the reasons for the enduring appeal of pilgrimage is that life itself is a pilgrimage. We are going to a sacred place; Christ is assured us that he has gone on before us to prepare a place for us. If Christ prepares it, it is indeed a sacred place. There are risks along the pilgrimage of life; some of the people are pleasant and some are not. Pain, it seems, is inevitable in one form or another. And you need the material things of life. Do recall that your heavenly father knows you need these things, but has given you a map (the Bible) that tells you how unimportant they are. It seems a contradiction; it actually is just a right ordering of priorities. But it’s easy enough to get lost along the way; you need one of those checkpoints every now and then.

Life is a pilgrimage; the Christian knows that Jesus is the way. Without the way, there is no going; without the truth, there is no knowing; without the life, there is no living. Scripture tells us how to handle the life along the way, the people we meet and the stuff we have — but we still need a checkpoint. That’s what communion is for. We are taught that in communion we are to begin by examining ourselves. We are to look around at our spiritual environment, and see where we are. If we’re not where the map wants us to be, we need to repent and headed in the right direction. The road signs are within us.

Our pilgrimage is a journey down a trail to a sacred place. Someone blazed that trail for us 2000 years ago. We need to remember what He sacrificed to open that trail for all the pilgrims who have followed.

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