Society of the Precious Blood
at start of Pilgrimage from
Hebrews 11.8-10; Luke 12.22-24
May I speak in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
nearly a year of planning and
preparation by many people the day has arrived for this Service of Celebration
and Thanksgiving and the start of the pilgrimage.
is a time of thanksgiving
For the initial founding of Burnham Abbey in 1266, 750 years ago;
For the first Sisters who left Goring Priory and made their way to
It is a time of thanksgiving for the restoration of the Abbey in
For the Sisters of the Society of the Precious Blood, as a
contemplative order, when they reoccupied the site in 1916 exactly 100 years
It is also a time of thanksgiving for the present day Sisters who
continue to live a life of prayer, who are continually on an inner journey, an
inner pilgrimage seeking God in all things.
are a pilgrim people and each one of us is
on a journey, both an inner spiritual journey and an outer journey, our life’s
journey. There is nothing new in that.
our first reading we heard how Abraham was called by God to leave his home and
‘by faith he set out, not knowing where he was going’. This is a recurring
theme in the Old Testament where people are obedient to God and both individuals
and whole tribes move into the unknown but with God leading the way.
our Gospel reading Jesus explains to his disciples that worrying about
possessions and concern for food and clothing are unnecessary, as is worrying
about the future. He encourages them to have faith in the knowledge that God
will provide for each of them, for each one of us, according to our needs.
Easier said than done!
disciples, too, were on a pilgrimage following Jesus even if they may not have
recognised it as such at the time. They
left home and family, travelled light, were often not sure where they would
sleep or where the spirit would lead them but their faith in Jesus, their
yearning to be in his presence, to learn from him, meant that each one of them
obeyed the call to follow him.
has become increasingly popular during the
twentieth century as people feel the need to leave the hectic, busy world
of work and consumerism behind. They discover the freedom that a simple life
brings, where possessions, time and status are left behind.
this service a group of people will set off on a pilgrimage following in the
footsteps of those first six sisters who left Goring 750 years ago. They set out
in faith. It will not have been easy for them to leave the familiar for the
unknown but they trusted God as they set forth on their journey, on their
pilgrimage. It was a journey taken
in faith and obedience and in their continued search of a closer relationship
we set out today it will be slightly different as we know how far we will walk
each day and the rough time of our arrival at Burnham Abbey on Saturday.
Except for that, our journey will include all the essentials of a
Time to share stories, to listen to one another
Time consciously to enjoy and wonder at the beauty of
the environment as we walk along
the river, through meadows and woods.
There will also be an extended time of silence after lunch so that
we can walk and pray, consciously to make time for God, to reflect and have time
time to be in his
presence, to listen to Him.
As well as the physical walking of a pilgrimage there is also the inner pilgrimage, the inner spiritual journey which is an essential part. For the people who are unable to join us on the walking pilgrimage there is the opportunity to be with us in spirit through prayer. A leaflet is provided so that our journey can be followed on a day by day basis. For those who are walking, to know they are being held in prayer throughout the week will be a gift and a blessing. It is also a way of sharing the journey before we come together on Saturday at Burnham Abbey.
pilgrimage is not always about arriving at a particular point; it is the journey
which is important - a journey taken in faith and in search of a closer
relationship with God who walks alongside us each step of the way, today,
tomorrow and every day of our lives.
Thanks be to God.