“We are pilgrims on a journey;
we are travelers on the road.
We are here to help each other
share the mile and bear the load.”
I love that line from the hymn, “Won’t you let me be your servant.” It speaks to a dominant metaphor in our age: that our spiritual lives are a journey. 2020 is an important year in Congregational and U.S. history as it is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. (Great book recommendation: Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick.)
Pilgrimage is an important metaphor and action in our faith tradition. For most of us, it does not involve doing penance for past wrongs, but rather a way of deepening our faith. When Muslims make a pilgrimage — the Hajj — to Mecca, or when Jews travel to Jerusalem, or when Buddhists walk from temple to temple in Japan, they are engaging a deepening of their spiritual journey. Like the journey of Abram, the forebear of three of the world’s great religions, left Haran and set out, he set a pattern for one-way pilgrimage that doesn’t include a return trip. Likewise, the early Irish saints called themselves peregrini, and they went out on a one-way pilgrimage as well.
In this coming year, I invite you to imagine a new pilgrimage for this congregation, whose name itself bears the indelible mark of pilgrim journey. As we engage a new strategic plan this year, we will imagine new vistas for our congregation. We will dream new dreams for our congregation: who we are, how we serve our neighbors, and where God is calling us to go.
T.S. Eliot in Four Quartets wrote, “We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.” May God help us this year help us to journey together, explore and expand our view, and to see Plymouth again for the first time.
The Rev. Hal Chorpenning has been Plymouth's senior minister since 2002. Before that, he was associate conference minister with the Connecticut Conference of the UCC. A grant from the Lilly Endowment enabled him to study Celtic Christianity in the UK and Ireland. Prior to ordained ministry, Hal had a business in corporate communications. Read more about Hal.