Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Walking in the footsteps of Jesus

During Lent we think of Jesus setting his face towards Jerusalem (Luke 9:51) and walking with a determination some of his "wannabe" disciples lacked (Luke 9:57-62). On his journeys Jesus attracted attention. People came to listen, to challenge, to question, to be healed, and even to follow him. What would the gospels be but a shadow of themselves if Jesus had been a stay at home rabbi!

My bishop, Richard Ellena, Bishop of Nelson, N.Z. is on a journey. 1000 km in 40 days around our diocese. He has walked over the mighty Takaka Hill, tramped through the Heaphy Track, ambled down the extraordinarily beautiful West Coast, journeyed into the Southern Alps, followed the Inland Kaikouras to the Pacific Ocean, and now is on the homeward leg through the vineyards of Marlborough. Along the way he is attracting attention. People are walking and talking with him. Memories are being created, especially in the outposts of our Diocese. In the photo above Bishop Richard is speaking to a congregation of followers at Ward. God is working in him (see his blog for his reflections) and through him.

Last night, walking to the supermarket, I met someone I rarely talk to, and who has no connection with the church known to me. The first thing he said to me was to compare my paltry journey with the bishop's mighty walk! (With the help of a recent newspaper item on Bishop Richard's progress) this mighty walk is making an impact beyond the confines of our regular church fellowships. Often we talk about our 'journey' or 'being a disciple' or 'being like Jesus' but the way we live is more or less the same as everyone else lives. Bishop Richard is offering a vision of the possibilities of a journey in which literally we do as Jesus did: we walk; people watch; new possibilities emerge for talking about Jesus and his kingdom.


Anonymous said...

Peter, does Bishop Richard know of the work of Through Faith Missions in England ('Walk of a Thousand Men') which has pioneered prayer-walking evangelism for many years through national parks, coastal pathways etc?
I'm sure they'd love to hear his story.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
(Wee accident there sees your comment posted twice by me!!)
Not sure what +Richard knows but I have forewarded your comment to him!