A huge thank you to all those who have taken an active interest in our long bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Steve and I have greatly valued your support. Your prayers and the sponsorship kept us going when fatigue slowed our tired legs, especially on the long hills. We are hugely grateful. You can come to hear all about our adventures at a celebratory event in the parish rooms on Wednesday 6th July. You’ll find more details on the Grapevine, the church’s notice sheet.
Any journey is an opportunity for reflection, and hours on a bike when it can often be hard to talk to your companions, gives plenty of space for your own thoughts. A long journey does resonate with the idea of pilgrimage, even though in this case the end point was notable for its geographical rather than its spiritual significance. Nevertheless, this venture has shared those notable features of any good pilgrimage, solitude and companionship, silence and conversation. In this space without distractions and interruption, new thoughts and fresh insights can come to the fore. All we need to do is let the questions God is posing surface and hold our attention.
In the middle ages, so this story goes, a Christian pilgrim arrived in the darkness of night at a town. As he approached, a shout came up from the distance, “Who are you? From where have you come? Where are you going?” Having called the answers back, he was invited to draw closer. On meeting the lookout, the pilgrim enquired about how much the sentry earned a week. Then he declared, “I’ll give you double, if, each time we meet, you ask me those same three questions.” The pilgrim could see the value in pondering his responses.
Reflecting on those three questions, “Who are you? From where have you come? Where are you going?” is worthwhile for us as individuals and as churches.
We’ll all have our own answers to these teasing, exacting questions. As God goes on shaping us, our answers will be different each time we think about them. Taking time, periodically, to reflect and consider our responses will help us notice how our character is being formed and our God-given calling becoming clearer. Perhaps you might set aside a few hours this month, may be on a journey, prayerfully to engage with these questions for yourself and for us.
As we journey as individuals and together, let us be reflective and engage often with these fundamental questions of life.
Baptism is the formative step on our faith journeys and the prayer after baptism conveys the sense of ongoing journey in the community of faith beautifully.
May God, who has received you by baptism into his Church,
pour upon you the riches of his grace,
that within the company of Christ’s pilgrim people
you may daily be renewed by his anointing Spirit,
and come to the inheritance of the saints in glory. Amen.