“To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history. To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God ... Christians go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to Rome, and also to Compostela… to strengthen their spirit with the witness of faith and love.”
- Pope Francis
Pilgrimages have been around for millenniums and are critical parts of most religious traditions. Human kind has an internal desire to find the divine in unique locations that provide meaning to our lives. Often these locations come from our heritage and the stories we hear of God becoming real and present to our ancestors. We hold a view that in these sacred places the bridge between our world and God is closer and more accessible than the settings we find ourselves in each day.
Pilgrimages are about the search for God and/or moral significance in our life. Many times the upheld locations call us forward to meet the creator however the journey there is what shapes us and connects us with who we are and what God is calling us to be in this world.
Pilgrimage is an attempt to align our lives with what is right. To find peace, make spiritual progress, and encounter the divine. It's about living simply and moving toward what is sacred in our lives. Since it is a journey of physically going to a sacred space so does our hearts and souls. It is a journey both inward and outward with respect for the past and the present.
Community of Christ Heritage
As part of the greater christian community, Community of Christ joins with those in journeying to find God in their life from the sacred places of the past. Here is a list of the "6 Top Christian Pilgrimages" brought to you by lightworkers. com for you to check out.
With this churches unique heritage it provides additional sacred spaces to which we travel with the hope to find the divine. Let's look closer at these places represented in this tradition.
1. Kirtland Temple - During the early years of the latter day saints movement the Kirtland Temple was built by a community of believers. It was a place of community life anchored by the church and its beliefs. It was at this sacred space where many people felt the presence of God moving within their hearts and souls. To learn more about the Kirtland Temple and other historic sites please go to the Historic Sites Foundation.
2. Sacred Grove - In Palmyra, NY in this sacred grove is where a young Joseph Smith, Jr. had an encounter with God speaking into him a message of community through the love of Jesus that was unlike the other messages at this time. It was through this encounter where Joseph moved forward in creating this movement. Please check out this Sacred Grove link if you would like to learn more.
3. Nauvoo - Built along the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River Joseph Smith established another place for people to gather in community. It is here where Joseph Smith and his family lived out their lives. Though there are some difficult topics and practices that came from this time in the church the site remains as part of our heritage despite our current beliefs.
4. The Plano Stone Church - This church in Plano, Illinois was built and served as this denominations headquarters in the mid 19th century. Joseph Smith III started his trek as President in this area causing this to be an important piece of this denominations history.
5. Liberty Hall - Liberty Hall is located in Lamoni, IA and was the home of President Joseph Smith III. It also served as the headquarters for the RLDS now Community of Christ during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
6. The Temple and Auditorium - Located in Independence, MO this now serves as the headquarters for Community of Christ. Across the street they stand together creating a beautiful area for people to gather. Both are open to the public and the Temple is dedicated to the pursuit of peace. Fill free to stop in and tour both facilities as you walk the worshippers path.
Where are you going? What is your destination? Where is God calling you to pilgrimage? Go, look, search, and find for your place in this world.
I encourage all of you to journey to the places that are sacred in your life. Reflect and ponder on what has conspired and yet what is to come. Where do you find peace and significance? Where is the divine guiding you?
Thank you all for those sharing the blog. This week I challenge you to share the blog on Facebook with your friends.
This week really think about how pilgrimage could impact your life.
In November 2018 we had a post about gratitude titled "Spiritual Gratitude." It focused on the science of gratitude, how it rewires our brain, and how it enhances our spiritual life.
This week we are exploring gratitude once again because it is such an important part of happiness and spirituality.
Expressing Your Gratitude
Research has found being thankful increases our level of happiness. They have also found that expressing that gratitude with others shows even larger increases. In the video below they did a gratitude experiment with expressing their thankfulness to another person. Check it out and I encourage you to even give it a try.
The Benefits of Gratitude
The blog Daily Greatness states there are both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits of gratitude. Intrinsically our perspectives can change and our senses become heightened. Extrinsically thankfulness can positively impact our social connections with others just by showing appreciation for them. It enhances our focus and allows for more openness in our communication.
Amy Morin writes about the "7 scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude That Will Motivate You to Give Thanks Year-Round." These 7 benefits highlight how being thankful positively impacts our mind, body, and spirit. Enjoy the read!
What Are You Thankful For?
So the question is who and what are you thankful for? Is it your best friend, the coffee you had this morning, your neighbor, the birds chirping, the song you are listening to on the radio, or maybe the comfy shoes you are wearing. Identifying the things in our life that we are grateful for changes our perception.
I encourage you start making a list. Maybe you can quickly come up with 25 things or maybe you can start a journal and do five each day. The key is to practice thankfulness and allow it to be a bigger and bigger part of your daily life. If you are struggling with coming up with things check out Kid President. He has a list of 25 things he is thankful for.
What characteristics do I appreciate specifically about someone else?
What in my life makes my life better?
How has someone positively impacted me in the past and present?
What in my life can I not do without?
Where do I want to spend my time doing right now?
Be thankful for whatever responses come to these questions.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You to all those sharing and supporting the blog.
Answer the questions above and be thankful for those things in your life.
Why do I have so many questions along my faith journey? Shouldn't I know the answers or just be told what they are? Am I the only one with the questions? Does this mean my faith is not strong enough? Am I missing something everyone else is? What does it even mean to have a faith? Is it belief in God, Jesus, or is it just a belief in the mysterious spark of life?
What if others know I have questions? Will they judge me for not believing everything I hear and read? Will I be allowed to still be apart of their group? What does this mean for my faith journey? Can I even still be considered faithful?
Where do I even start with these questions?
Questions About Disconnection With God
Why do I feel so disconnected at times from God in my life? Is it me or is it God just not wanting to be with me? Did I do something that God turned away from me? How do I stay steady spiritually when I don't even know where I am most days?
Why do I hear all these amazing testimonies from others but I have none for myself? Couldn't God just talk into my life and make this easier? How often do most people pray? Is it ok to fall asleep why you are praying? How do people stay focused in prayer without their minds wandering?
Questions About Scripture
I mean did Jonah really get eaten by a whale and survive? Or is it just a myth that provides ways for us to find faith? How long can you survive if you are eaten by something anyways?
Did the whole city of Jericho really come crashing down because the army walked around it? Was it just poorly built or was there some weird shift in the foundation?
How does evolution work with the creation story? Was it literally 7 days or is that just a worldview that has been passed through generations? How do dinosaurs fit into the stories from scripture?
How is it these are the only writings in time that make up the word of God? Doesn't God act throughout time making the Bible just part of it? Does God still speak today? And if God did how would that become scripture?
Questions About Jesus
Did Jesus really walk on water as that seems impossible? And why wouldn't he do it all the time if he could? Does this mean Jesus could also fly? Was he really born from a Virgin or did God just act within the world events that transpired?
Was Jesus born as the Son of God or did he become someone we look to as divine because of his life and message? Was he always kind, or did he ever show other extreme emotions? How was Jesus during his teenage and young adult life? Did he ever make any bad choices?
What would Jesus think about society today? Who would he be a champion for now? What about his message still speaks to me? What would he think about social media? And how would he use it to carry about his works? How would he change church today? What would be his primary focus of ministry?
I wonder how people will take a whole blog post of questions?
Maybe this will cause others to question things in their faith this week?
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.