This Weary Pilgrimage - Three

In this Easter week, when our thoughts turn to the risen Christ and his promise to be with us aways, its appropriate to think again about the metaphor of journey. The image of the Emmaus Road and its two companions - surely wife and husband - who experienced the intimacy and support of their lately-crucified friend and Master in a new and perhaps unsettling way, is a sign of us of what we can expect in a personal relationship with Christ - empathy, instruction and challenge. But I wonder too if there is a message in the fact that the company he joined was a group, not an individual. Modern society placed a great deal of emphasis on the individual's spiritual journey. But in a postmodern age, with all its accompanying faults, its still good to be reminded afresh that this journey is one we undertake as disciples together.

In recent posts I've been sharing details of the Guided Prayer Walk offered on the Sunday morning of our Wilderness Theme Church Camp up north, with 100 or so adults and kids. The second prayer station followed up the first question "What's in your pack?" with the query "Who’s travelling with you?" Our venue offered a useful base for this, in an ordered series of five pairs of fence posts, part, I guess of a fitness trail. But we used them to remind us of the importance of companions on the journey. Not so much the divine companion, God's comforting Spirit, poryed in the Dream Giver parable as 'Champion', but the human friends and colleagues who travel the road of faith with us.

The young facilitator asked each "tribal" group to think about people who encourage them, support them, sacrifice for them. He reminded them of some Bible people, eg Barnabas, who had a special ministry of encouragement, but said that all of us are charged with responsibility to care for one another. The groups then engaged in a short competitive game using puzzle verses about that, eg Galatians 6: 2, Carry each other’s burdens and in this way fulfill the law of Christ. Children in the group got to make a little craft item of two people holding hands,with the verse from Ecclesiastes about two being "better than one; if one falls down his friend can lift him up" along the base.

There are some examples from the overall camp theme - the early parts of the Exodus story -that point to companionship, eg Moses after his call needing Aaron and later Miriam to help. But I thought the best scriptural pattern to look at was from later in the journey - the way Aaron and Hur held up Moses' hands in Exodus 17: 11 - 12. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites (locals) were winning. Aaron and Hur who held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other, so that his hands remained steady, - demonstrate to us a spiritual principle about supporting and serving each other. Time was short but participants could also have drawn a picture or written a poem about their biological or church family to place in their pack. Before moving on the Station Three, they did take time to quietly give thanks for someone who had supported them on the road.

When we are facing a difficult journey - of grief, hardship, or loneliness - its good to know we have a friend who will listen, weep or simply wait with us. Disciples of Jesus are called to be an alternative community, a laboratory of peace, a sign to the nations, a place of welcome (Brother Leonard of Taize, quoted by Donald Hilton). May the Risen Christ use us in all those ways and more, this Easter Season.

We are pilgrims on a journey

We're companions on the road

We are to help to help each other

Walk the mile and bear the load.

I will weep when you are weeping

When you laugh I'll laugh with you

I will share your joy and sorrow

Till we've seen this journey through

© Richard Gillard 1977.