Monthly Talking Point – April 2018

This month’s edition is provided by
Revd Judith Ryder

The Journey with Jesus Continues

The Lenten journey is over, the journeys of Palm Sunday and Good Friday, even the journey to the tomb on Easter Day, have all been and gone. But as we know, to borrow from Tolkein, ‘the road goes ever on’: the journey continues.

Some people complain about modern over-use of the word ‘journey’. But there is one very good reason the word is used a lot: it makes sense. Faith as a journey was an idea rather missing in my early life and discovering it I found really helpful.

But how do we find our way on this journey?

People find their way around in different ways. The first thing I do in a new place is get a detailed map. I like to get to know an area quickly, to understand and visualise how it fits together. Google Earth makes that even more satisfying these days.

Other people have very different ways of finding their way around. Some, of course, are only interested in knowing a very small area, what they need for day-to-day life. But that’s not true of many people nowadays, and there are plenty of ways of navigating to some degree, without looking at the map: signposts and other landmarks; asking directions; relying on memory and innate sense of direction; understanding the lie of the land. There is, of course, also SatNav.

Maps are still the quickest way to get a clear and complete overview; but sitting looking at a map doesn’t actually get us anywhere, and when we do set out, we have to make use of a lot of the other signs around to make the connection between the map and the journey. How much we have to keep going back to the map might depend on how much we’ve fixed it in our minds already. Most of us don’t have great memories, so will find it helpful to keep taking a look.

What analogies can be drawn between this and our faith journey?

We could look on the Bible as the map – the quickest way of getting the big picture, of seeing the connections, of not just limiting ourselves to our own locality.

Many people, of course, feel that they have no need of this ‘map’: the world around, other people, and our own instincts give us all the indications we need to journey through life. And this ‘map’ might look rather out of date to some …

A balanced Christian view, of course, would be that both need to work together. If the Bible is the map, it’s there to make the journey possible; but when we set out, we will always be using other helps along the way to make the connection between Scripture and our own lives.

The key point, however, is that this is about the journey, about where we are going and how we get there. Maps help, other signs and information help, but two things particularly help any journey. One is knowing where you want to go. The other is having someone with you has already been there and knows the way – that takes all the anxiety out of any journey. For us journey who for us Christians, the goal of the journey is God, the person who already knows the way and travels with us is Jesus. Knowing these two things, we can relax and enjoy the journey, look around us, take each stage as it comes, see what needs to be done on the way, who we can help along the way, and live in eager anticipation of the promised end.

Disclaimer: analogies can be a helpful way of seeing things a bit differently, but only go so far. However, once the analogy if is there, if it works, the reader or listener is likely to see all sorts of new directions it can be taken in. Give it a go when you’ve finished reading this. For example, in this analogy, what would SatNav be? Or other modern technological tools? And who makes the map in the first place? And how do we bring ‘out of date’ maps up to date?

Revd Judith Ryder
Curate at St Peters