In late April, Boyd and I set off on a two week pilgrimage - a sacred journey in Central Italy. We will visit sites that are significant to the establishment and growth of Christianity. We will walk, study, sing, pray and have long conversations about what we will see and experience. We will examine our faith roots both personally and at a community level.
This will not be the first pilgrimage I have undertaken. I know from experience the thrill of seeing places where some of my faith heroes lived centuries ago. And I know the challenge of examining my own faith in light of new experiences and new understandings. It is hard work.
A pilgrimage is not something to be undertaken lightly. Our leaders know this very well and so have provided us with a 120 page study guide plus and extensive bibliography to help each of us prepare our minds and our hearts for this adventure. (Boyd and I also need to prepare our bodies with a little extra exercise before we leave!)
All of us going on the pilgrimage approach this knowing that while we will be visiting sites that are important to the birth of Christianity and Christendom, the world is changing fast and the "Christian empire" is disintegrating. I am both anxious and inspired to approach this journey from this perspective - a reality that reflects the world that Jesus lived in. We will seek through the ancient artifacts and stories for clues to the original message of Jesus.
Here is just a wee bit from our study guide: "We will trace the emergence of an official and imperial Christianity closely tied to government, and also hear the voices and examine the lives of Christians who emerged in the midst of, but also over against the 'great Church'. They called it back to living its origins and to incarnating the message and spirit of Jesus."
Please keep us in your prayer as we prepare for our pilgrimage.