On a Journey with Jesus

by the Rev. Dr. Steve Danzey

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you—it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, on your body.” –Anthony Bourdain

I’ve been a fan of the late Anthony Bourdain’s travel episodes since they first appeared. If you’ve seen them you’ll know what I’m talking about; each episode not only described the place but also the people, the food, the culture, and what it felt like to be a person living in that place—a place not just to visit but to experience. “The journey changes you—it should change you,” he wrote. The same can be said of the Christian journey—it changes you, it should change you.

On Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, I described the Christian year as a journey with Jesus—a journey with him through his birth, baptism, ministry, passion, death, and resurrection. I also invited the congregation to a year of intentionally leaning into that annual journey the Church has given us, and to begin it together this week.

I hope you will join your parish family in worship, study, and serving as much as possible over the next few weeks as we journey through this Advent season and prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth. Our journey continues after Christmas as we move into the season of Epiphany. Beginning January 6 and concluding on February 3, we will unpack the baptismal covenant and prepare for Bishop Greg’s visitation on February 10. Using the curriculum “I Will with God’s Help,” we’ll dig deep into each component of the baptismal covenant each Sunday at 9:15 am. I encourage every parishioner to consider making a formal renewal of your baptismal vows at the bishop’s visitation. This formation series will prepare you for that. The series also serves as preparation for Confirmation or Reception into the Episcopal Church. I’m also asking new members or those considering membership to attend this class as part of their introduction to the parish. Forms for renewal of baptismal vows, Confirmation, Reception, and new member registration (with an explanation of each) will be available next week. I’m particularly excited about this series as it will be something we do together to deepen our faith.

After the bishop’s visit and continuing through the season of Lent, we will continue our journey on “The Way of Love.” Inspired by our Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, this Sunday morning series will explore practices that help us on the journey of Love. Bishop Curry writes:

“Before they were called ‘church’ or ‘Christian,’ this Jesus Movement was simply called ‘the way.’ Today I believe our vocation is to live as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement. But how can we together grow more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of lives, so that we can bear witness to his way of love in and for the world? The deep roots of our Christian tradition may offer just such a path.”

Each session will focus on a particular Christian practice, with some time for reflection and practical application. We’re working, too, on activities and events during the week to follow up on what we’ve been learning about and discussing on Sundays.

As Bourdain points out, the journey is not always comfortable. Sometimes it does hurt or break your heart. But there is also joy to be found on the journey, and companions who make the journey worthwhile. As I said on Sunday, our spiritual journey as Christians is not an aimless wandering. Although there are many twists and turns, our journey is toward God, which makes both the destination and the journey itself worthwhile.

– Fr. Steve+