Café Church – Wilberforce Hall
Sunday, 6th August 2017
Pilgrimage – Luke 9.28 – 36
Pilgrimages – we are all on a journey. This passage in Luke is the story of a journey, a journey up a mountain. The young people are going on a journey in a couple of weeks’ time up a mountain – Cadair Idris in North Wales. Diane and myself have just come back from a journey and I went up a mountain (of sorts) – Glastonbury Tor. I thought we would think this morning about the idea of pilgrimages.
We are all on a journey. We need to remember this, for sometimes we forget it. We stay in the same place, have the same routines, see the same people, crowded inby our own 21st century busy-ness, by our TV’s, by a world changing, by a world in distress and in turmoil all around us. But, nevertheless, we must remember in the face of all of this, we are on a journey.
We are not the same people or in the same place as we were a year ago.
Now we have been on a journey for the last 10 days, a different place each night, different people and different sights. That is actually quite tiring, but also at the same time quite refreshing.
Like Peter, James and John in our reading, on our journey it has been us and Jesus. This is the most important aspect of our journey; that we go with Jesus, where He leads and where He is.
I want to show you a bit of our own journey this morning as part of our reflections on the idea of pilgrimage. It is in fact, quite surprisingly, a journey where God has been quite central in many ways. In some ways we planned this and in other ways it came stronger and deeper than we realised it would.
Slides: 1 Stonehenge, 2 A big rock in transit, 3 majestic Salisbury, 4 Friends Richard and Lynne, 5 Friend Charles, now also a Vicar in Bristol, 6 Bristol Cathedral, 7 Brunel, the famous inventor and engineer and me, talking about Euclid and his ideas, 8 Slumming it in our little tent, 9 Wells Cathedral, 10 Wells, 11 Wells, 12 Wells, 13 Glastonbury Tor, 14 Glastonbury Tor – surprisingly effortful partly because I took only 12 minutes to get up it, 15 Di’s friend from College, Reuben, 16 Slumming it again, like lords and ladies actually, 17the Great Hall, 18the Manor House, 19 Breakfast in the Great Hall, 20 Diane being served by a Knight, 21Buckfast Abbey, 22inside the Abbey and 23a few of the gloriousCompton Acres’ Gardens – a Cathedral of a different sort.
God was part and parcel of that journey. In those glorious places of worship, inthose re-unions with friends, all of whom are on their own journeys with God and in our time together, reflecting on what God is doing in our lives and where He is taking us and what He is saying to each of us,God was very much central to this journey.
Returning to our story in Luke.
Peter was captivated and entranced by the glory and beauty and significance of what He was seeing. He wanted to capture the experience. He wanted to freeze it, to bottle it, to stop the moment and keep it there.
“Let me build a tent for this moment. I don’t want to lose this moment.”
He had seen Moses and Elijah. He had seen something of the glory and magnificence of Jesus, Son of the ever-living One, the God of all ages and He wanted to keep that vision. He didn’t want to move on. Stop! Hold it right there, he was saying.
He was forgetting that this was journey. Enjoy the moment. Feed on the present moment of the journey, but it is a journey. They were discussing Jesus’ departure. This was not the end of the line, but just a stop along the way.
There are moments when we glimpse glory, when we sense God in the moment and we want to stop time. I have had those moments and I am sure many of you have had those moments too. The temptation is to linger, to try to hold them there and stop.
Standing in the glory of Wells Cathedral, or atop Glastonbury Tor or with friends, gloriously re-united, God was very present. There was such joy, fullness and a sense of God inthose moments. That was the best part of our journey this summer. And in our own journeys there will be moments of glory and of sensing God’s presence and the temptation is always to freeze time, freeze those moments and bottle them.
But of course, we can’t. They are a part of the journey, not the destination. The challenge of those moments is the reminder that comes from the cloud - don’t forget that clouds don’t stand still, they drift across the sky - the challenge that comes from those moments, is the voicethat comes from the cloud and says,
“You have seen His glory, you have glimpsed the shape of this Divine plan, this Divine rescue operation that Jesus is accomplishing.Now listen to Him.”
God is saying to us here this morning; this is it, this is my plan, this is where I am going with this journey. This is not the end, it is just a moment on the way. Here is my Son and your journey is all wrapped up in Him. What was central to our pilgrimage this last 10 days was Jesus, just as He is central to our wider pilgrimage inlife, just as He is central to each of you in life. Jesus is the Father’s Son, therefore we must listen to Him.
This is our Café Church. We come and drink coffee, we share croissants and conversation. We relax together, we sing a few songs. But the centre is Him. It is not the coffee, it is not the croissants or the conversations – they are all part of it – but the centre is Him. Those great buildings of old, reach up to Him, they focus on Him. They exalt Him. They revolve around Him. You can’t stand in a great Cathedral and not look up to the arches, the high ceilings or the spire. Your focus and gaze is drawn up to the cross, the high spires and the beautiful windows.
Our lives have many voices speaking into them, but the most significant one is Him; Jesus, God’s Son, living Saviour and shining in glory at the top of the mountain before His cross.
Our pilgrimage reminded us that we are on a pilgrimage with God and Jesus is central. We are not there. We are to be listening to Him daily and moving on daily to where He wants us to be.
So it is with each of us. We are not there. This is a moment, but it is a moment in a journey of life, where He is the destiny and He is the voice we must listen to.