At today’s Eucharist our scripture readings gave us examples of two journeys, each of which has some of the elements of a pilgrimage; a journey of prayer, of faith and of hope, with salvation as the ultimate goal.
The Reading from the Book of Exodus today is about the Hebrew people leaving slavery in Egypt, and beginning their 40 year journey to freedom.
Just before the beginning of today’s lesson the narrative said that the Israelites were urged by the frightened Egyptians to leave Egypt. That last plague, the death of their first born, got to them. (Ex. 12:33-36) But that soon changed when they realized there were no more slaves to do their work. (Ex. 14:5ff)
As the Israelites left Egypt they stopped at Succoth, about 25 miles from the Egyptian border, to bake the unleavened dough they had brought with them. This gave them a chance to catch their breath and to rest briefly before they had to hurry into the wilderness of Sinai. It gave them an opportunity also to gather provisions for their journey.
The reading from Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Jesus knew that some Pharisees were plotting to kill him. He went away from that place of controversy to a place where he could peacefully heal the sick and proclaim the message of Salvation. His disciples and followers went with him. It was not really a pilgrimage, but it had the same spiritual elements; a journey with a purpose, and a goal.
Our spiritual life can also be compared to a journey. The inward journey is more important than any travel involved. It is from darkness to light; from mere existence to sharing the love of God, and loving one another.
At the beginning of our spiritual journey we need to gather our resources. We need to catch our breath and rest a little, a chance to think about what we need to learn about spiritual life; to learn about prayer.
When you become aware of your need for healing, for rest, for deeper knowledge of salvation; Jesus is here where we are, and also there in your own usual place of prayer. Come to him; pray to him; ask him to fill you with his Spirit!
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