Pilgrim's Progress

In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, a man called Christian, weary of life in the aptly named City of Destruction, leaves behind his family and friends and sets out towards the Celestial city. ( Can we all recognise ourselves here?)

He has a major handicap in his travelling, and that is the huge amount of baggage which he carries on his shoulders. It is uncomfortable and restricts his movements, and Christian longs to be free of this burden.

The road he has to take is walled in on both sides. The wall is called Salvation. The burdened Christian could only run up this road with great difficulty because of the load he carried. Eventually he gets to a hill, where stands on the top a cross. At the bottom of the hill lies an empty tomb.

Bunyan writes ‘I saw in my dream, that just as Christian drew level with the cross, so the burden broke free from his shoulders, and fell off his back. It tumbled down the hill until it came to the mouth of the tomb. There it fell in, and I never saw it again.’

As Christian stood with tears running down his cheeks, three angels arrived to announce ‘Your sins have been forgiven’

When the angels left him, Christian began to sing
‘So far did I come loaded up with sin;
Nor could anything ease the grief that I was in,
Till I came here: what a place is this!

Must here be the beginning for my bliss?
Must here the chains that tied it to me crack?

Blessed cross, blessed tomb, blessed rather be
The man who here was put to shame for me.’

and more bluntly put , the moral of the story is.....

and it will have to be Frederick Buechner again ; this time on the motives behind our journey, and why carrying anger or resentment against those who are our enemies are really not worth it.....

"To journey for the sake of saving our own lives is little by little to cease to live in any sense that really matters, even to ourselves, because it is only by journeying for the world's sake - even when the world bores and sickens and scares you half to death - that little by little we start to come alive."

"Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back--in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you." 

Now for a cheeky little video packed with meaning for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear : - Kris Kristofferson with the song Pilgrim's Progress................as James Alison says perhaps "We are at a stage in our evolution in the church when "we are groaning with the pangs of a new creation" and yes, it's painful.

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