Friday, 5 September 2008

Pilgrimage - reflecting on the UK trip

In my journey to the UK there was an element of pilgrimage - to the sacred sites of a revered, loved, cultural icon. In the days between Greenbelt and meeting the Safe Space community, I had performed my own ritual walking of the streets of Stratford-on-Avon. Here, I had been moved by the mere fact of being in this place, the site of much imagination and dreaming. 

Mark Berry described pilgrimage as one of the central elements of the community he and Lou have gathered around their table in Telford. Pilgrimages to sacred sites associated with the saint who inspires their mission approach, everyday pilgrims on the way of Christ. And as I reflect on the influence of this approach on this community and its members, who take seriously the everyday nature of life as pilgrimage, as engaging in the mission of God in the world, does the UCA take for granted its identity as a pilgrim people on the way? Or do we take it seriously? 
What might it mean to embrace this identity, to engage in an everyday pilgrimage on the way of Christ, with a commitment and integrity that permeates all that we do - all that we are? 

Could this understanding help us to embrace and encourage fresh expressions of church, of gathering as God's pilgrim people, rather than being in constant competition to have the most bums on seats on Sunday morning? I believe the stories I have heard issue a challenge to us, to be less afraid of the loss if our members create new communities, more willing to see this as growth. Growth not as numbers, but as depth of experience and expression of relationship with the Holy: growth as depth of connection of the body of Christ (as a whole) with the wider community. 

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