Pilgrimage in prayer and worship
A great many Bible passages link to pilgrimage in its various aspects. Just a few are listed below with brief thoughts:
The pillar of cloud and fire
Such guidance in the context of the Judean wilderness was perhaps more nebulous than we sometimes imagine; calling for attentiveness.
A transformational "sacred centre" experience, followed by a descent & re-entry to "normality".
The Emmaus Road
The dispirited disciples met Jesus on their walk, they listened to him open the Word, they offered him hospitality - and recognized him at the table.
Paul and Luke's call to Macedonia
Not clear signposting, but "we concluded that God was calling us...". Remaining open to the Spirit of God in all planning and preparation.
Again, there is a rich supply of relevant hymnody; see especially the "Our journey with God" section in Singing the Faith (455-488) several of which the following specifically mention pilgrims/pilgrimage. Also:
StF 611 Brother, sister, let me serve you
StF 755 We walk his way
3: Prayer and reflection
- Methodist Prayer Handbook 2015-16 "To be a pilgrim"
- Refugees as pilgrims? Pilgrims as refugees? Potential to link pilgrimage with current news stories about migration, (the Pilgrim Fathers & Mothers were also refugees).
Again, poems on pilgrimage are many and the following selection is far from comprehensive:
- Pilgrimage by R.S. Thomas. "He is such a fast God, always before us and leaving as we arrive" highlights the compulsion and the paradox of pilgrimage - we seek to "come see the place where he lay", yet are aware that "He is not here".
- His Pilgrimage by Walter Raleigh
Possibly written in captivity the night before he died and reflecting on life and death as a pilgrimage.
- The Pilgrimage by George Herbert. A poem which references John Bunyan's classic A Pilgrim's Progress
- Mapsby Holly Ordway. A contemporary poem which connects ancient maps with today's SatNav.
- First Steps, Brancasterby Malcolm Guite. Reflecting on a first outing after injury.
- Emmaus journey in many representations - e.g. He Qi's Road to Emmaus
6: Prayer and Pilgrimage Exercise
- A brief exercise which could be used in a worship or study context and could give rise to pilgrimage in local situation:
- PLACE: Where is your holy place/sacred centre/important site? Could that site become part of a pilgrimage? If you asked your congregation/group/friends the same question, what might result?
- HISTORY/TRADITION: What event from history (biblical to last week) grabs your imagination? Could that incident give rise to pilgrimage? If you asked your congregation/group/friends the same question, what might result? What other objects/experiences/happenings could lend themselves to pilgrimage? Art? Music? Birth/death/family story?
- FAITH/DOUBT/MISSION: What matters most? How do we prioritise? What are we carrying? How could pilgrimage help? With whom locally could we be in partnership? Ecumenical/inter-faith partners; schools/colleges; rambling/walking groups/local history groups...