Throughout my time at Incarnation, I have continuously heard this little phrase which is used to describe our congregation. We are often described as being a “pilgrim church” or a “tabernacle church”: a church that doesn’t have pillars but rather has tent poles.
This theological imagery, taken from the story of Exodus, has powerfully shaped the collective imagination of our congregation and our leaders. It helped our leaders make the decision to stay at Drew and it continues to be a guiding image shaping our leaders’ imaginations.
Likewise, the early church was also shaped by the idea of pilgrimage. The author of Hebrews reminded the early church to “seek the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14). The apostle John also writes of this glorious city in the book of Revelation to remind his fellow pilgrims of their true home (Rev. 21). Saint Augustine later picks up on this same theme, and he uses it as the primary image to shape his argument in his work The City of God.
The Biblical conception of pilgrimage reminds us that this world, as it remains in its brokenness, is not our true home. Our true home is the city where God dwells and where all things are made right. As we wait to arrive at our eternal destination, we remain pilgrims and follow the leading of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In light of how God is uniquely shaping us as a “pilgrim church,” I would like to invite you to prayerfully consider an opportunity that will be taking place later this year.
In the spring, we will be sending a team of parishioners to El Paso, TX in partnership with one of our outreach partners, Abara. Abara is an organization that seeks to address and bring awareness to the injustices surrounding global migration. You can learn more about Abara and the specifics of what they do here.
Many of the immigrants who come to this country are people looking to build a better life for themselves and for their families. The immigrant story is often filled with hardship and trauma, and many of our neighbors in South Arlington have difficult stories associated with journeying to this country. This is a narrative interwoven into the lives of some of our congregants, including my own.
In a very real way, these immigrants are also pilgrims, seeking to find a home where they can dwell in safety and prosperity.
This trip will be a “border encounter” where we will have an opportunity to learn more about the stories of these pilgrims seeking a better life. This is NOT a “mission trip,” a “tourism trip,” or a trip advocating a specific political agenda. Rather, this is a pilgrimage. We will humbly position ourselves to listen and learn about the injustices and traumatic experiences of people seeking a better life.
If you are interested in learning more about this trip or would like to attend this trip, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to talk to you more about it either through email or over a cup of coffee. The trip will be from April 24th through the 26th. The deadline to sign-up is March 1st. Participants are asked to cover their own travel costs to and from El Paso; Incarnation will cover all meals, lodging, and programs once you get there. Abara's FAQ about the trip are available here.
As we continue in our own collective church pilgrimage, I pray that we would be a church that faithfully follows wherever Jesus sends us.
It is a privilege to worship alongside you as the curate of this church.
Your fellow pilgrim,