When our son Matthew was growing up, his favorite book was a juvenile edition of Pilgrim’s Progress that featured illustrations drawn by school-aged children. It was one of the few books he took with him when he moved out for college, and now, many years later as a young father, reads it to his own young children. Each day, I would read to him a portion of Christian’s journey from the City of
What was instructive about Christian, the main character, was that he tried to stay on the narrow way and not be lured off by the likes of the disreputable people he met such as Worldly-wise-man, Mr. No-Good, and Mr. Love-Lust, to name but a few. Similarly Christian struggled with fears and temptations, both real and imagined, of the distracting
Today’s Epistle from St. Peter addresses the Christian faithful and reminds them that they are strangers and pilgrims. This is a quaint concept to embrace for those of us living in 21st century
Our Old Testament lessons for Daily Morning Prayer from the end of Lent through this Eastertide season have been drawn from the Book of Exodus. The readings chronicle the Children of Israel, true strangers in
Similarly, we learn in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that Abraham “sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For Abraham looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” And that “These patriarchs all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
“This world is not my home I’m just passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
In this Eastertide season, our Gospel lessons recall the numerous Post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus to His disciples. In them, we hear of Jesus preparing His disciples for His departure, His Ascension to the Father, and His continued care in preparing a place for them and for us. (John 14)
The Christian hope is not to be focused only here on this earth nor on our worldly possessions. These are not an end in themselves but serve only to aid us on our spiritual journey. Pilgrims learn that possessions are transitory, and accordingly, they keep a light touch upon them. As pilgrims, our focus is on a “ desire for a better country, that is, an heavenly:” one as it says in Hebrews, (11:16) “wherefore God is not ashamed to be called our God: for he hath prepared for us a city.”
At the later service today, Bishop Hutchins will Confirm a number of children and adults as they continue their lifelong pilgrimage in the Christian faith begun at Baptism. The Candidates will renew the solemn vows and promises made at Baptism, just as we did corporately a few short weeks ago on Easter, where we renounced the promises of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Each Confirmand will be anointed with Sacred Chrism as they are strengthened for their Christian vocation by the Holy Ghost for their pilgrimage time here on earth and in the words of this morning’s collect, to (BCP 173) “avoid those things that are contrary to their profession” of faith.
May we also keep our eyes fixed upon our final destination, that heavenly city, as we too remember that we are strangers and pilgrims here on earth. Let us be greatly encouraged by the promise of Jesus that when we reach the final goal of our pilgrimage, (John 16:20) all our “sorrow shall be turned into joy.”