Abide

It is crucial that we be rooted in someone, if not somewhere. Pilgrim people on the move root in relationships. I am the vine, said Jesus… (Miriam Therese Winter)

A sermon for the fifth Sunday of Easter, year B: A couple of weeks’ ago I spent some time with a group of clergy women. The topic we explored together was pilgrimage. Our leader, Rev Ruth Everhart  http://www.rutheverhart.com/blog/ , shared her experience of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and we drew out the themes of pilgrimage, of being a pilgrim. What does this mean? Today one of the themes from our Bible readings is about being rooted, about being branches, about abiding. Maybe these themes aren’t as different as they might appear at first hearing.

In the group I was part of, we wondered what made a pilgrim and found that it involved an attitude, a way of looking at life.

Being a pilgrim involves being open – to a nudge, to an adventure (maybe even to a vocation). Being a pilgrim means a remembering that we are body, mind and spirit and seeing life and love in this holy, whole way – using all our senses hearing, seeing, touching life in all its fullness.

Being a pilgrim means a particular way of paying attention. Ruth told us of visiting a variety of sacred, holy places – plenty of which were disputed in terms of – is this really the place where Jesus was born, died, rose,  miraculously shared bread…? She encountered many places where people came to touch the rock where maybe something sacred, holy happened. And a question came to her to ponder: – Is that a sacred rock, or are all rocks sacred? Being a pilgrim is another way to see the world – as a place shot through with God – a place where God abides.

Due to certain travel problems, I arrived late to the group. I was the last person to arrive. I had not met any of these women before, except through the internet and Facebook. And as I entered they gave me a round of applause – a warm welcome for a stranger. In a few short hours, in a few short days, spending time with these women, brought us into a different kind of relationship – a kind of a pilgrim bond or band. So that when it came for us to part, there was a real sadness.

We came from a range of countries and a range of different Christian traditions. Being a pilgrim means honestly facing difference, wrestling with difference and wondering what blessing that might mean for us as individuals and as members of communities.

Being a pilgrim is about stepping into the unknown – as life wherever we are is full of unknown twists and turns – and boldly going out.

We played with a number of words about the pace of being a pilgrim – the Scottish word to ‘daunder’, to meander, my own offering – to pootle, and to saunter (a word whose root may come from Sainte Terre – holy land, or may come from Sans Terre – to be homeless).

Being a pilgrim is about saying yes, as God says yes in love to us. It is a verb – to abide, to dwell, to remain, to continue

Ruth wrote this prayer to accompany her through her experience of pilgrimage and to continue to pray in her return home, to the place where she abides and is still a pilgrim:

I seek with all my heart

to be open to the leading of the Spirit on this pilgrimage.

May my heart and soul bear fruit.

May I be good soil for the work of the Spirit.

May my life change direction if need be.

May I be willing to bend like a willow in the wind of the Spirit.

Change me.

Bend me.

Break me, if need be.

Uproot me.

I am yours.

Amen

It is crucial that we be rooted in someone, if not somewhere. Pilgrim people on the move root in relationships. I am the vine, said Jesus… (Miriam Therese Winter)

Abide in my Love.

Huge thanks also to Rev Rachel Poolman, warden of St Cuthbert’s Centre on Lindisfarne https://www.lindisfarne.org.uk/saintcuthbertschurch/ for continuing to offer us generous hospitality and helping us continue to wander and wonder about being a pilgrim and the practice of abiding.

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