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WHY SONG OF ASCENTS POST 4

“It is not the traveller who shapes the path, but the path that shapes the traveller.”
By I Can’t Remember.

We’ve talked about the Pilgrim Road itself and the festivals that inspired pilgrimage, but the pilgrimage itself had a great effect on the pilgrim.

Because the pilgrimage was undertaken over many days and sometimes across foreign lands or across desolate places, it was unwise to travel alone. The larger your party, the less likely you were to be targeted by thieves. If you forgot something, the more likely those with you could share without creating hardship. You could watch your children collectively, gather resources collectively, cook collectively, make camp collectively, break camp collectively, live and travel in community.

We see a great picture of this in Luke 2:41-50. Joseph and Mary are heading back to Nazareth after celebrating the Passover in Jerusalem. So trusting are they in the community they are with that they walk a WHOLE DAY without seeing Jesus. We know Jesus had brothers and sisters; maybe they were capturing all of their parents’ attention that day. Maybe the pressure of having to parent a perfect child made them enjoy the interlude of not having a persistently correct 12-year-old around. Whatever the reason, they trusted their community this much and assumed he was with one of the families. Upon realizing their error, they immediately went and got him. But if this had happened today, Child Protective Services would have been called. (By the way, have you ever been guilty of bone-head parenting? Well Jesus’ parents did it too, and He turned out alright, so give yourself a break.)

So were there disadvantages to living in this kind of community? Why, yes. If you like privacy, well, that’s out the window. If you’re one of those people who never wants anyone to know you have problems, too bad. If you want people to think you make more than you do or that your kids never back-talk you or that you eliminate without odor, then you’re going to be uncomfortable. On the Pilgrim Road, all your quirks and idiosyncrasies are out in the open. Oh, your sins get a pretty fair viewing also. If you’ve ever been on a camping trip with friends or family, you know the truth of this.

Of course, they had to stick together no matter what, so what you wound up with was a bunch of people who accepted you, even when they had seen you at your worst and because of that, you were motivated to be better. To be better to the community and in the community that had accepted you as you were. You know that neighbor you were in that terrible fight with? You probably don’t want to spend days on the road wondering when that is going to blow up on you. Better make up. Not enough motivation to be a better citizen of the community? Well, you’re going to make sacrifices at THE TEMPLE where the presence of God has been rumored to refuse sacrifices offered from a bad heart. Sometimes when that happens, well, it’s unpleasant. Better go make up.

On The Pilgrim Road, I find myself encouraged to forgive others because they will probably have to forgive me for something. On The Pilgrim Road, I find patience for others because they had to have patience with me. On The Pilgrim Road, I see the greatness of God in the way He makes up for my weaknesses by providing others who are strong, and I get to see moments where my strengths make up for weaknesses in others. On The Pilgrim Road, I find community, love and family. On The Pilgrim Road, I see God’s body moving and working and growing together. No matter how hard the journey may seem, my best life is lived on The Pilgrim Road. And in Christ, I don’t have to travel anywhere to enjoy all that The Pilgrim Road has to offer. I’m always on the road to deeper relationship with Him.
– KEITH TROOP