Most of us walk everyday. Some of us go for a walk for exercise or recreation. We might walk one, two or more miles, on purpose. Some of us hike, vigorously, up mountain trails. Some of us even take vacations to hike mountains, or canyons, or coastal trails. What about walking 500 miles to church? I bet not many of us have done that. Arthur Boers has. He is a professor and pastor in the Mennonite Church in the USA. He begins his latest book with that statement about walking 500 miles to church. It took him 31 days to get there. He walked the Camino de Santiago route in Spain which ended up at a cathedral which is supposed to hold the relics of St. James the apostle (camino is Spanish for way and Santiago means Saint James). Believe it or not, millions of people have walked this trail. It has been a popular pilgrimage route for many people since medieval times. Boers defines pilgrimage this way: "in its truest sense it is religiously motivated travel for the purpose of meeting and experiencing God with hopes of being shaped and changed by that encounter." We don't do that so often today. But, pilgrimages were an important Christian spiritual discipline in the past. Boer's book rediscovers this discipline for us. It is an interesting and informative read. Along the way, he uncovers the value of other related spiritual disciplines for today. It's a stretch for many of us because we are so used to other, less physical, means of travel. Which are much faster and more convenient. We would hardly walk 20 miles if we had to endure blisters, and heat and solitude, and if our destination was church! So it is precisely for that reason that this is a good book for us to read and ponder. When Christianity began it was called the Way. The disciples followed Christ by walking. Our life today is fast paced and so we think our "walk" with Christ should be, too. But, perhaps we have much to learn or relearn about our walk with Christ as we slow down to a walking pace. That is what Boer experienced. In this book, he shares what this pilgrimage showed him about living the Christian life, whether we walk or not. And, who knows, some of us might begin looking at walking a little differently. We might even plan a pilgrimage ourselves. Whether we do or not, as we read Boer's book we can see that there are some essential Christian practices that we can follow right here and now.
We will be reading and discussing Boer's book in adult Sunday School class this fall. You can pick up your copy from Pastor Todd.