“The scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”
Galatians 3:22 (The Epistle reading for the Feast of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Seminarian, 1965)
From August 1-10, 22 pilgrims from St. Alban’s went looking for God in Ireland. The pilgrims comprised the Journey to Adulthood (J2A) Youth Group and had worked for two years to make those 10 days in Ireland a reality. The time spent in the southeast of Ireland was indeed God-filled. (Please come to the forum presentation on October 4 after the 9:15 a.m. service to hear the many ways in which God was revealed to us while in Ireland.)
At the end of the last full day of our time as pilgrims we gathered as we had each day before, to pray the Order for Compline. This was our last opportunity to worship together in Ireland. The custom had developed that I would ask the pilgrims to share with the group two things: where they had seen God alive and active in their day, and what they hoped for the day to come. However, on this last night, after we prayed Compline together, and our host and guide, John Spencer, had spoken to us about his hopes for us, I asked the group a different set of questions. I asked them: “What do you hope to take back with you from this time together here in Ireland,” and second, “What do you hope to offer up to God, that with God’s help, you will leave behind here in Ireland?”
The responses from the pilgrims to those two questions were profound, funny, deeply theological and emotional. The answers we gave came from places deep within each of us; acknowledging the places we felt profound joy, and the places we felt broken or lost or where we knew that we could only make those changes–leave those things behind–with the help of the God who knows us through and through and loves us anyway.
I don’t think we need to go on a pilgrimage to Ireland to ask those two questions of ourselves: To what do we want to hold fast in our lives? What do we need to let go of with God’s help?
God gives us opportunities to make those decisions, to enact those changes every day. In fact, every day we wake up, God gives us the chance to make those changes…even the changes that are so monumental as to require someone as infinitely powerful as God help make those changes happen. And, God gives us those chances out of God’s goodness and infinite love for us, God’s creation.
With God’s help, to what will you hold fast? What will you choose to leave behind?
In Jesus, I will hold fast to love, and leave behind foolishness.
I long to put myself into the grace and mercy of God and walk the footsteps of Jesus Christ in the Passion, leaving behind all doubt. For it is the Passion which we, as Christians, must live, suffering for love and for justice.
God Bless you, Matthew, for being a mentor and guide to these young people, You and your witness will be one of the things they hold on to, whether they know it now or not. God has blessed you richly. (“The force is strong with you, young Jedi!)