Do you ever think of yourself as on a journey? That your entire life is a journey, a pilgrimage? It is a popular notion in our culture and especially in Christianity.
From the Christian perspective a pilgrimage requires the pilgrim to leave one’s normal pattern of living in order to find what God wants to say in our time. There are things in our life that bother us, or hopes and plans that we are uncertain about and we need the time out of the daily routine to pray and ‘see’.
I think attending a flower festival and sparing some time to reflect is a good combination. Recently a number of us participated in pilgrimage and Mass organized by Bishop Norman to Canterbury Cathedral. It was the See of Richborough’s contribution to the world-wide Jubilee ‘Year of Mercy’.
In the Old Testament a ‘Jubilee Year’ was a time for special honour of God, shown by a change in one’s way of life. Sins were forgiven, slaves were freed. God’s mercy was celebrated [Leviticus 25:8-13]. Jesus came to tell people of God’s favour. It seems to me that if we truly realized what God has done for us – his loving forgiveness in the gift of His Son – we would be a more loving people. If we could only accept God’s forgiveness, we could forgive others.
You will notice that mercy involves action. In the Year of Mercy the active person of faith makes a pilgrimage near or far to pass through a ‘door of mercy’. The door to a church becomes a symbol of opening to the fullness of God’s love, and invites us to pass through as a sign that we wish to experience God’s mercy and take it to others. The door represents a new opening for God’s mercy to every heart. Each Christian is called to seek and receive God’s mercy, and convey it to others through whatever doors they pass, whatever thresholds they cross. Such were our thoughts as we assembled and worshipped at Canterbury.
Circumstances [and no little planning!] have combined for St Mary’s to offer its own contribution to the ‘Year of Mercy’. From Friday, August 19th to Monday the 22nd St Mary’s will be hosting a flower festival entitled ‘Celebrations’. Our ancient timber porch will be decorated in honour of this Jubilee Year of Mercy and our south door will be our ‘Door of Mercy’. There will be printed prayers and explanations available to pilgrims. Please make every effort to come along and realize God’s wonderful mercy in your lives.