Lent is often described as a journey, which calls to mind the Exodus story of God’s people journeying through the wilderness for forty years and the spiritual journey of Lenten renewal.
Another kind of journey is a pilgrimage—a spiritual journey that also includes a physical journey. Traveling to see and experience a holy place has a long history. The Bible is full of pilgrimages; Psalms 120-134 were intended for pilgrims to sing on their way to the Temple in Jerusalem.
Pilgrims have flocked to Jerusalem for centuries. Over time, the pilgrims’ path from the fortress where the soldiers mocked Jesus, through the streets where he carried his cross, to Golgotha and to the tomb became an established route of prayer. It is called the Via Crucis, also known as the Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross.
Have you ever taken a pilgrimage? What kind of pilgrimage can you imagine for yourself?
Have you ever prayed the Stations of the Cross? What was your experience? Do you think your experience might be different if you did it again?
This message is excerpted from “Lent: Penitence, Pilgrimage and Preparation,” by Audrey Novak Riley, a 2012 resource of the Women of the ELCA.
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