Stop at the crossroads and look around;
ask for the ancient paths.
Where is the good way?
Then walk in it and find a resting place for yourselves.
Set up markers, put up signs;– The Book of Jeremiah (6:16, 31:21)
think about the road you have traveled,
the path you have taken.
Humans have engaged in pilgrimage since the earliest days of religion and faith. A pilgrimage is a venture, a movement, a journey toward a place where the presence and mystery of God is encountered.
But much of the institutional church has lost this spirit. We’ve filled our houses of worship with division, bitterness, and power-struggles. In our work to make the church an effective organization we’ve lost the wonder and beauty that was pilgrimage, a sacred journey on which we encounter God in unexpected ways.
My own journey has included great sorrow and hardship. After a challenging childhood, I was a traditional pastor for 15 difficult years. I know what it’s like to be on a journey, encountering God in profound ways and yet not finding places or times to express that joy without the baggage that accompanies most institutional Christianity. Rather than asking, “Where have you seen the beauty of God?” our churches have lengthy business meetings and endless committees. Wonder is exchanged for capitalism, true charity is abandoned in the quest for profit, and people are valued less than property that sits unused most of the week.
In the next few weeks I will be launching a new personal ministry called The Pilgrim House, initially a one-year experiment through the end of 2019.
The Pilgrim House will strive to be a ministry of times, places, and resources for the moments in pilgrimage when you need to rest. It is in these moments that we feast, share, and imagine. It is here where we make our sign-posts and consider the paths we’ve taken. The Pilgrim House will include reflective blog entries, encouraging podcasts, celebratory liturgies in various locations, and learning events. The Pilgrim House will hopefully be an ever-changing way to stop and re-discover the beauty and wonder of Christianity in new expressions of faith.
After being raised by fundamentalists, educated by evangelicals and reformed and Anglicans, and time spent ministering among Anabaptists, I now consider myself a post-denominational pastor to pilgrims who are hurt, wandering, or simply curious and questioning, and I hope that this new turn in the path will lead to peace and hope for those that journey with me.
So, where can we go from here?
- You can learn more about me here, or follow on Twitter or Facebook.
- Along the journey you can read encouraging letters called Pilgrims’ Notes, published weekly (beginning Tuesday, December 25).
- Or, you can listen to a periodic podcast on journeying with Jesus (first episode coming Sunday, December 30).
- You are invited to participate in a Pilgrim House liturgy that will ritually celebrate themes discussed in the podcast (beginning around Sunday, January 6).
- If you find this ministry helpful in your faith pilgrimage, you could consider becoming a patron and support The Pilgrim House into something long-term.
I look forward to the ways we can journey together.
Blessings, friends, on your pilgrimage!