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Pastor's Message - April 2024

~Walk Humbly ~

“God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the

Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and

to walk humbly with your God?”

~Micah 6:8

Dear Members and Friends,

Have you ever noticed how much the Scriptures talk about walking? I mean, of course, it was their primary means of transportation in Bible times. But “walking” is also treated like something more. Your “walk” means your conduct in the world, the way you live your life. Psalm 23 famously describes life as a guided walk through green meadows and fearful valleys. And perhaps the official favorite verse of this congregation, Micah 6:8, tells us that God’s desire is that we would walk in all humility with God and in all love toward our neighbor. (See above.) But what about the actual, literal walking part?

In late May, I’m taking part in my first ever “pilgrimage.” Of course, I’ve called all my summer backpacking trips “pilgrimages,” just because I like the word and the concept. But this one is on an established medieval pilgrimage route following the life of one St. Cuthbert from a ruined monastery in Scotland to the “Holy Isle of Lindisfarne” in northern England. It’s only 35 miles, which is exactly half as long as the hike I took on the Laurel Highlands Trail last summer. This trek is set up for people who don’t hike. We’ve got reservations at inns and restaurants all along the route, and our luggage will be transported ahead of us. But much like The Canterbury Tales, this walk will be taken in the company of fellow pilgrims. It’s a guided clergy retreat with the life of St. Cuthbert as our model. Now…I know nothing about St. Cuthbert, and I’m only marginally interested in him. What interests me most is a thing I learned many years ago: Walking can be prayer. It’s a prayer that engages the whole body, and a joy unlike any other. When you walk, you see the world up close, and the physicality of it somehow means that your whole person is praying: body and spirit. The difference for me this time around is that I will be doing my walking in community, whereas I usually do it alone.

Another thing about walking-as-prayer is that you don’t even have to use words. You just let your thoughts and feelings drift heavenward. You can walk with a friend, or in a group, and you can chatter the whole time. That counts as prayer, too. You can walk near or far, long or short. The point is to get your body good and tired and maybe get some sunlight in the process. And so, as the warm April weather sets in around us and the earth awakens all green and bright, consider walking—if you’re able.

The Canterbury Tales famously begin by saying that in April, people get the urge to go on pilgrimages. That might not be as true today as it was in Chaucer’s time, but there’s still something sacred about the physical act of walking. Make sure you do it humbly—with an eye open to the beauty of the world, sensitive to its glory and dismay, its sights, and sounds and colors. I’m glad to be making this journey with you.

Christ’s Peace,




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