There was a beautiful uniformity among all, with equally powerful emotional and spiritual renewals among us.
Walking to Emmaus is a Glory Sighting like none other.
My local church is a huge fan of the “Walk to Emmaus” pilgrimage, and now I know why. I’ve referred many to this experience but never “walked” myself until this past weekend. I knew just a couple hours into it, this would be my Glory Sighting for the week, if not my year.
Besides the personal impact, which I’ll get to later, three aspects of this experience struck me as simply beautiful.
The first was its ecumenical nature. “The Walk” first began as a Roman Catholic lay-led program in Spain to help Catholics deepen their faith and to motivate them to use their gifts to further the Church. The Methodists then picked this up and made a “Protestant” version of the experience, though I don’t know what the difference would be. The majority of the pilgrims in my Bethlehem Camp #35 W2E group were committed Baptists. Behind them were Methodists, then some Assemblies of God and non-denominational churches. Even though the pilgrimage intentionally addresses theological issues, there was a beautiful uniformity among all, with equally powerful emotional and spiritual renewals among us.
The times I have experienced such university and diversity in my life are few: Two in fact. The other was when churches of all denominations, shapes and colors joined in a ministerial association in Opelika, Alabama, that I’ve written about before and have a vision will start here.
The second aspect of this experience that struck me as simply beautiful was that everyone was in it to help each other renew and deepen their faith. There probably were twice as many workers as there were pilgrims. The workers paid their own expenses to participate while the sponsors paid for their pilgrims. Most of the workers were behind the scenes, but they did so in beautiful concert to make this a powerfully positive spiritual experience for us pilgrims.
The third aspect of this experience that struck me as simply beautiful was the diversity in simply the “type” of men, who might not otherwise have considered developing friendships. I think all would agree, there were some who seemed to have appeared from the deep woods, others who had just walked off the farm, others who left the bank. But what was most beautiful is how they all broke stereotypes for me. Those who seemed to walk out of the deep woods were engineers and bankers, there were teachers and coaches, intellectuals, and, of course, pastors. There seemed to be nothing but a sincere desire to get to know each other, packaged by a common desire to draw deeper into a relationship with the Lord and a commitment to their local church.
Now to the personal impact. I was empowered in my passion to serve, motivated to increase my commitment, square away my priorities of life, and return home a better husband, father, neighbor, pastor and community leader. There are few who know me who would not say I was those things already. I was invigorated to step them up. So my message back to my sponsors after this was clear: “If the intent of this experience was to calm me down, that failed miserably (smile).” So I’ve told them, they have to take the “blame” when someone asks, “What has happened to Pastor Jack!?” I realize I was already annoyingly motivated, so to those who must endure my even greater passion, I apologize in advance and they can blame the W2E.
I am not working for that organization, when I encourage any who have found their faith to be diminishing and in need of refocusing on what they want out of life and what they want to put in it, to seek out a pilgrim and ask to be signed up for the Walk either with W2E, Tres Dias, Cursillo, or one of the others. You’ll thank me later, as will your family, and your church.
Send your Glory Sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/ParkerPastor, or mypumc.org