Monday, April 30, 2012

The Pilgrimage


March 22nd, 2012, heralded an adventure known as the Walk to Emmaus. It began as a two hour trek to Sierra Vista, Arizona where I was taken to a restaurant by my ‘sponsor’ and treated to dinner. I was then dropped off at the church where I would spend the next three days in close communion with the ladies and spiritual advisors for Walk #216. We were divided up into tables of five or six and each table was named for a woman of faith. My table was Queen Esther and for those of us there for the first time, we were Pilgrims on a spiritual pilgrimage.

Three days… in the belly of a great fish? Three days… in a tomb? Three days to reflect on where I am and where does God want me to be. Fittingly, Thursday evening culminated in a vow of silence for the remainder of the evening.

There are no secrets in the Walk to Emmaus, but oh there are surprises! And some of those surprises are most humbling, indeed. To date, I haven’t written about this experience only due to it being so fresh, so spiritually encompassing. Often when I try to share with someone about how meaningful this pilgrimage was, I find my eyes welling up with tears of gratitude.

A series of fifteen talks are presented. Every talk shared in some manner on the subject of grace.

Prevenient grace draws us from conception to conversion. Simply put, it is
·       the love of God wooing us
·       the will of God drawing us
·       the desire of God pursuing us
·       the gift of God freeing us
·       the activity of God empowering us.

Justifying grace is the grace of God’s covenant love. Again, simply put, it is God is calling us back into the relationship for which we were created. Further,
·       responding to grace is an act of faith
·       we cannot do anything to merit a relationship with God

Sanctifying grace is God’s active love – to me! It is God’s love in action to others and to the world. Therefore, it stands to reason that our response to Sanctifying grace involves both love and action. It is the desire to grow spiritually and provides the divine energy that transforms our hearts, our lives and through that, our communities. It is
·       Restoring our relationship with God and that of others
·       Imparting new life, new light, new strength and a new heart
·       Perfecting us in the image of God and the likeness of Jesus Christ
·       Equipping us to do the work of Christ in the world; to be Christ’s hands and feet

The three legs of the proverbial stool, shall we say?  Oh, I’ve always believed grace was more than amazing, but learning and knowing the different aspects of grace was quite clarifying. It helped me to understand where I was, where I am and where the Lord is leading me. One Grace experienced in three ways and doesn’t this remind us of the Trinity?

On day two, there was a wonderfully prepared banquet that we were led to from campus site to campus site holding hands. We entered into an area where we had not previously had access to. It was dimly lit and our “Cookies” were dressed formally. We were invited to share the cup and the bread with them. I cannot begin to tell you the joy I felt as I shared with the “Cookies” in some measure giving back to them what they had been so lovingly sharing with us throughout these days. The “Cookies” were the ‘servants’ of our pilgrimage and you could sense the love and attention to detail they put into their work, their labor of love. They served us as if they were serving Christ. I was humbled beyond measure by their actions.

After perhaps one of the most memorable meals I have ever been served, we went back to our tables and continued with talks.

Then we were roused again for another trek, holding hands and snaking from campus to campus… how could anything exceed the banquet we had been served? We reached our destination, the Sanctuary that was darkened but glowing with candle light and the most wonderful music I had ever heard. When we entered, tears were steaming down my face and I turned to one of the spiritual leaders and asked, “Is this what heaven will be like?” People’s voices were raised in songs of praise and worship, waving candles and welcoming the new pilgrims… even now as I type this, the tears are flowing.

When finally your eyes became accustomed to the light you began to see pilgrims greeted by members of their own family and members of their home church. Wonder of wonders, Husband (who went on the Walk the week before) was there to greet me and present me with a rose. When our processions had snaked through the sanctuary several times and we were all sufficiently in awe, the lights began to brighten and the persons who welcomed the pilgrims slowly and quietly exited the sanctuary. I cannot believe how far some of these persons drove to shower us with agape love!

Looking back on what I’ve written doesn’t even come close to describing what I experienced during this three day event. I am looking forward to is being able to do this for other pilgrims during upcoming walks.

Every day after the Three Day Emmaus Walk is Day Four! Day four is where our feet hit the ground. I’m sure the event and the effects of the pilgrimage will fade, but it is now my job to continue on through spiritual disciplines of study, prayer, gathering together and grouping with like minded women to keep the flame alive! I need to nurture the vision God has placed upon my heart.

I had been asked for years to go on The Walk but I always declined. I am the woman who goes to seminars and women's gatherings and comes home saying, "God? Am I yours? Do you love me? Why am I leaving so much emptier than when I came?" I would feel like the program, seminar was meant for everyone but me. The Walk to Emmaus touched me deeply. I knew I was  am God's, that Christ was is my Savior, and that I was am called to a higher purpose!

Every part of this event was God ordained and had been bathed in prayer for months. The Esther table was divinely selected with just the women I needed to be surrounded by. Not all women at the tables were pilgrims. Some were leaders who helped us to stay on track and gently guide us back to the subject at hand. Some were women of God who helped us to see our God given talents and where God might be directing us. Even so... Amen!

…to be continued!

Tamara

PS 

Luke 24:

28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.

30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.