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From the editor: September 25, 2015

Pilgrimage Destinations

James R. Thobaben, Ph.D., of Asbury Theological Seminary references the practice of pilgrimage to make a point in his article in Christian Bioethics (August 2014, p. 215):

"... depending on the route, the Camino de Santiago takes a month, six weeks, or longer. After weeks of trudging across the semiarid meseta at almost 100°F ... followed by days through Galician mountains in near freezing rain, one enters the city and finally the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. I remember someone suggesting to me, after I had returned from one such journey, that what really mattered was not arriving but the sojourn itself. I do not want to deny the significance of the walk, including its penitential and reflective character, let alone the wonderful fellowship along the way, but the suggestion is almost laughable. The most basic characteristic of pilgrimage is traveling to get somewhere - a very specific somewhere. No one I met who had to leave the Camino due to illness or injury before getting to the Cathedral of St. James said, "Oh, good, what pleasant reverie I have enjoyed on the stroll, why care I should finish or not?" No. The point is to get there. And, like a pilgrimage... faithful living is not content-free or without a purpose. Faithfulness is meant to get us somewhere - to a unifying relationship with God the Father, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Knight, Death and the Devil by Albrecht Dürer

As images of pilgrimage, Thobaben footnotes Albrecht Dürer's Ritter, Tod und Teufel (Knight, Death & Devil, 1513) and John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

It is not a bad idea to occasionally check our spiritual GPS and see if it is still on the mark. St. Paul writes of goals or end points towards which we go: "We see in a glass darkly, but then face to face." "... till we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." "...Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

So, what is the "where" to which we are going? Quo vadis? Whither goest thou? In the end, it will be helpful to remember that a very personal exchange lies down our road, one that Jesus clearly told us about, in which our natural disposition to call him "Lord!" then will be compared to our prior obedience to his as Lord. Oh, we are saved by Grace (thank God!), but the face of Grace is Jesus and it is best to make his acquaintance now, lest he say, "I never knew you." There is no need to fear: only trust and obey, Pilgrim. He himself is the Way - past death and the devil!

Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,

James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James