Pilgrim People: Study 1 - To be a Pilgrim

Sermon Date: 18th June 2017



Who enjoys travel?  Why? What sort?  Share your good traveller's tales.
Who loathes travel?  Why? What sort? Share your bad traveller's tales.
What part has 'change' made to your liking or loathing of travel?
The Christian life is often described as a 'journey'. In what ways do you think this is appropriate?
Pilgrimage is defined as: movement/journey from where you are, to a place where others have previously encountered God, moving in company with others.
The hope of every pilgrimage is that we emerge changed in some way.
Question: What, if any, pilgrimages have you made? Describe what happened. Did you come out changed in any way?
The texts for this subject: Gen 12.1-5; Heb 11. 8-16. Read aloud together
Looking at the Genesis text:
Go back to a verses in the previous chapter 11.31.
Abram [as he still was at this stage] came from a family who had travelled.
Question: What effect/influence has your family experience, had on your attitude to spiritual progress?
v1. “Now the Lord said to Abram” is a rather understated way to describe a momentous calling.
Question: Have you ever felt God has called you to something?  If appropriate, share it with the group.
Question: v1 “Go”... going almost always means leaving.  How does this make you feel?
Question: What did Abram leave behind, and what did he take with him?  [V4-5 as well]
Question: In your own faith journey, what have you left and what have you brought with you?
Question: V2-3 what promises did God make to Abram in connection with this call? What do you make of them for yourself, in the light of our understanding of faith today?
Looking at the Hebrews text:
Question: v8-12. Looking back at this Genesis story, approximately 2 thousand years later, how did the writer of Hebrews understand what had happened?  [Group leader will need to have a background outline of the story of Abraham and Sarah and Isaac Genesis 12-15]
Question: v.10 what does the writer mean by “a city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God”?
Question: What images does this bring to mind, compared with the journeying they underwent?
V13-16 is a rather stark summary of the lives of some of the people that the writer has referred to. 
What are the negatives is this section?
What are the positives they hung on to?
There is a balance to be struck for all Christians between the 'Heavenly goal' to which we travel, and a love of the life we have now. Share how you get this into balance.
Returning to pilgrimage as a specific, short journey we make, within the overall journey of our Christian lives, try to relate some of Abraham's story to our pilgrimages. [e.g. difficulties and discomforts of travel; uncertainty; confusion; leaving things behind/cancelling other plans; carrying things with us [maybe needing to leave them behind, too, at some point] etc.
Is there any other way to interpret the idea of pilgrimage, other than the formal travelling Christians do?  - (e.g.) how might you reflect on a difficult time in your life like a severe illness; time of being unemployed, and try to see any parallels between what you learned from going through that with God?
What intellectual and emotional 'pilgrimages' might God be leading you into at this time of your life?  [e.g. question of women in ministry; how to live more simply for the sake of the environment etc. etc.]
Could you formalise that into a 'pilgrimage' with some trusted friends, to go somewhere?

Where you might gain further understanding or help with your questions?

Christine Bailey, 13/06/2017