Lent follows Swift-piphany

The following paragraphs contain the rather whimsical observations with which I began my sermon this past Sunday for the first season of Lent at Grace Bible Church in Winnipeg. They set the stage for my reading of Mark 1:1-15 as the interpretive key for Mark’s Gospel and for the church’s pilgrimage through the season of Lent.

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Atonement and the Ordinary

Last year, I read Julie Canlis’ wonderful, little book A Theology of the Ordinary (2d, ed.;Godspeed Press, 2018). The book emerged from the author’s “extended meditation on this cultural obsession with greatness and being ‘impactful'” (2). Canlis ponders whether “our culture’s emphasis on supercharged emotions and measurable success blinded us to Romans 12 and the fact that our ordinary lives are our ‘spiritual act of worship'” (3)? In the rest of the book she precedes to sketch out a brief “theology of the ordinary” organized around the themes of creation, redemption, and new creation.

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On Pilgrimage

A short quote from Jim Forest’s devotional book, Pilgrimage as a Way of Life (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2007):

“You can walk to some great shrine on a journey that takes weeks or months and fail to become a pilgrim.  Walking a pilgrimage route, wearing a pilgrim’s badge, and sleeping in pilgrim’s hostels, are not what make a pilgrim.  Pilgrimage is more an attitude than an act.1  If all you are seeking is exercise, diversion, or a deed that will slim your body or impress your friends, you might be happier racking up miles on an exercise cycle at the local gym.  Pilgrimage is a conscious act of seeking a more vital awareness of God’s living presence.  As was said in medieval times, ‘If you do not travel with the King whom you seek, you will not find him at the end of your journey.’”

  1. I would be inclined to say that pilgrimage involves both the activity and the disposition.