Week before last, I was asked to co-lead a group to Ireland in the Spring. If it works out, I’ll let you know…there will be seats on the trip for Pilgrimage folks. Pilgrimage on pilgrimage!
The process of dreaming opportunities for the trip has put my mind and heart in a completely different place. I’ve been thinking about Ireland’s culture, music, history, and spirit…and about how all of that is nurtured in pubs. I’m thinking of the terrain of the country and how Ireland’s landscapes have nurtured Celtic spirituality, a faith deeply rooted in the natural world. I’ve been thinking about the Great Famine of the mid 19th century and The Troubles of the 20th. I’ve been remembering how seeing the United States through the eyes of another country’s citizens has made me a more thoughtful American.
The gift of World Communion Sunday is its invitation to visit in our minds and hearts other places and people around the globe. Without that reminder, it’s easy to focus on what we do here on our hill and assume our experiences are normative for all Christians. World Communion reminds us–in tasty ways!–that diversity isn’t a nice add-on to our faith, but is integral to it. As we learn about how others live their faith, it deepens our own.
Integral to living our Christian faith here at Pilgrimage, is loving our neighbor—acting them into wellbeing. Have you learned some things from this summer’s theme? I sure have! The most intense experience for me was beginning the summer thinking about acting the differently-abled into wellbeing…then having foot-surgery. Walking a mile in another person’s shoes—especially when they can’t walk, or walk with difficulty—that experience has helped me grow in ways I didn’t know I needed to grow. Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience.
So, we’ve spent some time this summer thinking about acting the world into wellbeing. Maybe it’s time now to get down off our hill and do something—or something more, or something different– about it.
What new ways might we act the world into wellbeing? In what ways might we deepen the actions we’re already taking to contribute to the wellbeing of others? Might that deepening process lead us to Ireland? (Or Canada?) Or to the Shepherd Center? Or to becoming more politically involved or participating in social justice protests? Or to scouring dark streets for children in crisis? Or to spending time with folks who are imprisoned? Or to holding lonely hands in nursing homes? Or to serving lunch to folks at MUST Ministries?
This place is called Pilgrimage for a reason, right? What we do here on our hill is so important! Nurturing our own faith is a prerequisite to sharing it with others. If we don’t tend to our own wellbeing, how can we see to the wellbeing of others?
But keeping all that wellbeing, love, and nurture up on this hill is only half the story. At some point we have to leave the hill and actively share the good news of God’s love with others. I encourage us to begin thinking together in more focused ways about how we might strengthen our work of acting the world out there into wellbeing… But first—we gotta eat!
The procession of breads today reminds us to bring with us to the table the different groups of folks we’ve been thinking about this summer. The variety of breads reminds us to bring our friends in Christ from around the globe. The Gospel reminds us that God doesn’t have a list of requirements for coming to the table; God just wants the house full and all the seats taken. God just wants all of us to be fed. And nourished. God wants us to know we are loved.
A landowner was giving a large dinner and sent out many invitations. At dinner time, he instructed an aide to say to those invited, ‘Come to the feast, everything is ready.’ But they began to excuse themselves, each and every one… The aide reported this to the landowner, who became angry and said, ‘Go into town, into the streets and alleys, and bring in those who are poor or crippled, and those who are blind or lame.’ After doing so, the aide reported, ‘There’s still room.’ The landowner then said to the aide, ‘Go out and scour the side roads and the back roads and make them come in. I want my house full!”
If you respond to these words, then for you, they have become the word of the living God. Thanks be to God!