Monday, December 29, 2008

The Holy Family's Pilgrimage

What I so enjoy about yesterday's lectionary reading (Luke 2) is the pilgrimage that the Holy Family has already been on by the time they enter the Temple and meet Simeon and Anna, ready to affirm what we now all know: this is the Son of the living God! We know that soon after his birth, the Holy Family went on a heck of a pilgrimage to Egypt, being chased by Herod's posse. My friend Henry Carse and I are eager to go on pilgrimage in that northern part of the Sinai to listen and learn from the Egyptian Coptics the path of the Holy Family nomads, a trail known only by those who are well-acquainted with the watering holes in that part of the world. Thus the Christ child truly is our Pilgrim God from the word "Go!"

Buen camino!

Salaam and Sahlom!

Peace, Brett

Thursday, December 25, 2008

St. Francis: A Pilgrim Saint...and Merry Christmas!

E. J. Dionne writes about St. Francis in his column this morning in the Washington Post, reminding us that the one who helped create the image of Jesus' birth in the dirt of the stall is none other than St. Francis, who first created a creche scene:

It was Saint Francis who, in 1223, set up the first creche in the Umbrian village of Greccio, depicting Christ's infancy in the less-than-regal circumstances of the manger. Saint Francis founded a religious order that stressed liberation from the tyranny of material possessions and, Pelikan notes, the role of Christians as "strangers and pilgrims in this world."

The world is still blessed with many actual Franciscans. But in our time, there is another community of "strangers and pilgrims" whose satisfaction comes not from accumulating material goods or political power. They are the relief workers and community builders lending their energy to the poorest people in villages and urban slums around the globe.

Click here for more.

We are strangers and pilgrims in this world!

Praise the Christ child, our Pilgrim God!

Buen camino!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Bethlehem: A Visit

I've been to Bethlehem twice now, and can say honestly I can't get enough of the current crisis/crises of this city in light of being the birthplace of the Prince of Peace. I remember well the muralist's Banksy's art/picture of a Christmas tree ablaze in the middle of a walled circle, the wall looking like the gray slabs that surround this city.

I remember looking from a high point in Jerusalem, looking at the wall snaking down and around Bethlehem, with the question haunting us: who is walled in or walled out?

the article in today's from the AP lines reflects a sense of quiet that is in the city. But the question is always this: this is not a peaceful quiet, but a quiet of resignation, or of angry people waiting to explode from their forced cocoon. Click here for more.

"O Little Town of Bethlehem" song begs the question: how still is it?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

John the Baptist: In the Jordan

Today's reading from Mark 1:1-8, was John the Baptizer, preparing the way of the coming of God in the person of Jesus. This is part of the pilgrimage journey of Advent, with John as prologue, as "starting point" for the journey of Jesus. The pilgrimage of God begins even earlier, with the words of the prophet Isaiah heralding the coming of the Christ, "Comfort, comfort my people."

I have stood, well, near the spot that the folks say "this is where John baptized Jesus" near Yarenit, a kibbutz that runs a tourist spot for Christian pilgrims. It is near where the Sea of Galilee flows into the Jordan, which then flows into the Dead Sea. It is a spot that is where the green river flows gently, with tree limbs hanging into the water.

So the Advent journey is well on its way!

Buen Camino!


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pilgrimage Begins to Mecca!

Noticed this on the website: pilgrims are gathering outside of Mecca for pilgrimage! The pilgrims follow a route that follows the path set by Mohammed 14 centuries ago:

Some pilgrims walked, carrying their bags, while others took buses moving slowly through the crowds to the Mina area east of Mecca. Men were dressed in simple white robes, marking a state of ihram, or ritual purity.

The pilgrims will all have arrived by Sunday morning at Mount Arafat, about 10 miles east of Mecca. The Eid al-Adha, or feast of the sacrifice, begins on Monday, when pilgrims begin three days of casting stones at walls in a symbolic renunciation of the devil.

Like other world religions that honor pilgrimage as a sacred practice, pilgrimage among those who are Muslim is to be honored.

Click here for more.

Buen Camino!


Friday, December 5, 2008

Shabbath at HIllel at Carolina!

Tonight I went to Shabbath at Hillel Center at UNC. It was beautiful, both the worship service as well as dinner. The students reminded me of so many people I met in Israel on pilgrimage, with men as well as women wearing kippahs! I appreciated how well they knew the songs, the words, the prayers, the gestures, and the importance of the service.

Thanks to Hillel!

Peace! Brett

Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent Beginnings...

...and we're off.

The Church's calendar gives us a moment to pause in realizing the change that is afoot, whether we like it or not: we're off to a new year in the cycle of the Church's season. Christ the King, or the Realm of Christ Sunday brought us to the "end," of sorts, in which we pause along our pilgrimage route to reassess where we've been, where we are, and where we're going.

The first Sunday of Advent found me in First Presbyterian Church of Henderson, preaching, realizing that hope is something I need to constantly remember to live out. In a culture in which fear has been the buzz word for so long, hope is of God! It is gift, and yet also a practice. "To hope" in a day and age of fear and dread is a gift.

Salaam and Shalom!

Buen Camino!

Have hope!