As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out (set his face toward) for Jerusalem. – Luke 9:51
Okay, I understand that we are a diverse culture with a broad range of religious sensibilities; I recognize that there is no “one size fits all” path to enlightenment; I get that my journey is not necessarily your journey.
At the same time I doubt anyone can make a reasonable argument that the journey is not worth engaging, or that our great need as people is not – essentially – the same.
Wherever we find ourselves at this particular time, I would like to suggest that setting our sights on Easter, and walking the dusty road to Jerusalem, can be an important moment if we really are serious about faith as an ongoing decision and spiritual growth as an intention of the heart.
Fact is – and I am casting this net wider than merely those who see themselves as Christian – if ever there was a need for the season of Lent and a disposition of repentance, then that time is now. What we do when we find ourselves in Jerusalem and standing at the foot of the cross is not my focus in this post – what I am saying is that we all need to make our way there. Mostly a pilgrimage is about the journey, but without the initial setting out how does the pilgrim ever expect to make any progress?
For me, Ash Wednesday marks a starting point, a recalibration, a setting of trajectory, a turning of my direction toward Jerusalem, and the cross, and eventually Easter morning. I find that I seldom appreciate the full meaning of Easter if I wait until Palm Sunday and the rush of Holy Week to prepare.
I don’t know where you are in your journey. You may not even be someone who follows Jesus. But I still recommend your engagement of the Pilgrim Way. How can you reject a message you have not fully explored? Besides, whatever decision you make when you finally arrive at Easter I can guarantee it will have been a pilgrimage worth taking.
Christian? Non-believer? Adherent to another religion? Atheist? Here is what I believe: I believe that God will always respond with generous grace to the honest seeker who is not afraid to open their heart and their spirit.
So take Ash Wednesday as an opportunity to recalibrate, recognize the deep need our world has for repentance and grace, recognize your own deep need, and set your sights on Easter.
Peace on the journey, and hope for this world – DEREK
This video from a few years ago is a helpful introduction: