Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Beroea, Athens….that’s five cities in 15 verses (from the New Testament portion of our Morning Prayer service today). All I can say is: Well done, Paul, Timothy and Silas!
Paul and his travelling companions were not on a whirlwind tour of the cities in Asia Minor, nor were they on a vacation, seeing all of the hot spots of the region. Instead they were traveling from place to place to spread the Good News of Jesus. Getting kicked out of that many cities for spreading the Gospel in so few verses is good work indeed.
Tomorrow evening 22 youth and adults will depart from St. Alban’s on the J2A (Journey to Adulthood) Group’s pilgrimage. Our destination? Ireland. No, we aren’t going as evangelists like Paul, Timothy and Silas; nor are we going on vacation, or on a trip–and we CERTAINLY don’t expect to get kicked out of any towns.
We aren’t going to Ireland to change others’ hearts and minds like Paul, Timothy and Silas. Instead, we are going to have our hearts and minds changed. Maybe “changed,” is a bit strong. We are going on pilgrimage to find those thin places–where the space between this world and the divine seems to be “thin”–so that our faith, our belief, and our love of God might increase. We are going on pilgrimage to experience God in a different culture, soaking in the rich heritage of saints like Patrick and Kevin.
We are going on pilgrimage to live more deeply and fully into our baptismal covenant: “Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers? We will with God’s help.” (BCP p. 304) Daily we will worship together, using the services of Morning, Noon and Evening Prayer and Compline. We will also learn about various other forms of Celtic Christian worship. We will pray together daily, read and reflect on Holy Scripture daily, and have multiple Eucharist services. And, of course, we will have hours and hours of great fellowship together, rejoicing in the gift of this time together abroad.
We will return, no doubt, with a number of stories to tell. There is a special Adult Forum planned for early October where we will share how we encountered the divine in Ireland.
Thank you to all who have supported the J2A Group these past two years as we have prepared for the pilgrimage. I would ask one more bit of support, please, as we are away: pray for us. Pray for us as we travel, and for good weather. Pray for us as we look to find God and a deeper knowledge of God and God’s love for us…that we may find and be found by God in Christ.
In the words of the “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” prayer:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
In Christ, with whom all things are possible,