Recently, Dan and Jill told us about walking The Camino, a 500-mile road across Spain to Santiago de Compostela. They explained how they took regular rest; how they made friends along the way; and how table fellowship with their friends gave them renewed strength to reach their destination.
Hearing Dan & Jill’s story, several said: “I wish I could do that.”
Well, you already are.
Dan and Jill’s geographical pilgrimage is over. But all of us are on a temporal pilgrimage, which is continuing. We aren’t traveling geographically. We’re traveling temporally – through time – from our birth, when we entered this life, to our death, when we will enter the next life. We have come from God. We are going to God. Life is a pilgrimage through time toward God.
Like Dan and Jill, we temporal pilgrims pause regularly to rest. The Bible calls that rest Sabbath. Each Sabbath, we come to a place called Church to gather with fellow travelers for table fellowship with each other and our Lord. Through Scripture and Sacrament, God renews us to continue our pilgrimage so we reach our destination, which we come to daily as we follow Christ.
Jesus said, “I am the Way.” And the Way of Jesus is Love: Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Love. Love is why we are here. Giving yourself to anything less than love is a waste; a dead end.
“Hey, Jesus, will many be saved?”
“Well, if they’re following me by being fully alive in love, then they don’t have to wait to get to heaven to have eternal life – because they’re living that Life already.”
But here’s the catch: We think love is an emotion we feel. But actually, love is a choice we make. We choose to love enemies, who aren’t loveable. We choose to forgive those, who aren’t forgivable. We choose to share with others instead of hoarding everything for ourselves because that’s what love does.
Love is good, but it’s hard. Selfishness isn’t good, but it’s easy. Love is a narrow door to enter. Love is a challenging path to walk. Taking the higher road always is harder. But it’s better than taking the easy path of selfishness, anger, and vengeance. That path is easy, but it doesn’t lead to life. It only takes life from others – and us.
So, choose your path carefully. But whatever path you choose, know this: When you get to the end, both Jesus and Jill say that you’ll need Kleenex.
When she reached the end of The Camino, Jill wept. Tears of joy. She made it. It was worth it. Everyone who walks The Camino is changed by the time they reach the end: They have fewer pounds – and more friends. Their feet are wider – and their heart is bigger.
Isn’t that how Jesus wants us to be when we all reach heaven? For us to be changed people? People with fewer grudges — and more friends. With less concern about ourselves and more compassion for others. With wider love for all – because, along the way, our heart got bigger.
The Camino in Spain is a road that people all over the world walk together in peace. Isn’t that our Creator’s hope for all 7 billion of us on the road that is this life? That we all walk the way of love in peace. Pilgrims from east, west, north, and south all around one table as one family. Breaking the bread of life and drinking the wine of love in God’s peaceable kingdom.
What a vision. What a destination. The Way of Jesus is here for all of us today. Christ invites you to join him in the adventure of a lifetime. You don’t have to go to Spain. The next step is right in front of you. Heaven is ahead of you. Christ is beside you. So, let’s all begin. Walk with your Savior. He will see you home.