Saturday, 3 November 2007

Tired, happy pilgrim

We finished the pilgrim walk last night. Titled 'walking in the footsteps of the Saints' it involved setting off from Holy Island last Sunday, then five daily stages taking us to Alnmouth, Newbiggin, Tynemouth, Jarrow and Monkwearmouth. We celebrated the lives of northern (Celtic) saints in each place: Aidan, Cuthbert, Oswin, Bede and Benedict Biscop respectively.

The venues were carefully chosen to have a connection with the saint in some way. For example, St Pauls Jarrow was 'Bede's Church'. What was impressive everywhere was the hospitality and welcome given to us, a group of Methodists. This resulted in people attending local churches they have never been in before, and more than one person claimed the whole idea a great success, simply on this basis of improving local ecumenical contact.

I spoke each night, which was enjoyable but demanding. I expected to be able to use two or three themes repeatedly, but in the end - and probably spurred on by the fact that a few people attended each evening - very little was repeated. I've never written as many sermons in my head!

In several places Leo Osborn - the much-loved and respected District Chair - and I offered anointing in oil as a response to the word, and in each place people responded openly. The 'call' was always the same, the Celtic saints sought to know God and serve God. They strove for a deeper faith which was always given for others. What about us? It clearly struck a chord.

So I preach tomorrow and go home to sleep in my own bed for the first time in 9 days. But it hass been a great time, and my thanks go to the lovely, friendly folk who have made me welcome, showered me with thoughtfulness and gifts, and encouraged every bit of the way.

Just got to get still weeping toes sorted out now...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just got back from Holy Island!
Your visit was much appreciated. I never cease to amazed by how the whole sense of rythm of liturgy and tides restores ones sense of balance so quickly! I'd recommend it to anyone
Ian (Wales)