Walking to church shapes our expectations. It creates a space for preparation and reflection about what we will experience. In a busy world, walking is a change of pace, an opportunity to prepare for what we anticipate.
I was in Zimbabwe at the end of a long day. I had preached three times and there had been a lot of driving. We pulled up near a dis-used farmhouse where a group of people was waiting for us. I was tired, and did not feel like preaching again. We greeted the people. “Where have you come from?” I asked. “Over behind those hills”, they replied. I could see the hills. “How far have you come?” “About 20km”, they said. I was silent. People had walked 20km, on paved roads and bush tracks to meet me and to listen to me! At that moment my tiredness was gone. I was ready to share.
I wonder how walking to, and from, our gathering in Zimbabwe shaped the expectations of those people? Walking over such a distance creates space to think, anticipate and to be silent. Maybe the long walk home was a chance to reflect and chat, with God and fellow walkers, about what had been experienced. Maybe walking home from church is also important…taking time to ponder on the shared experience of worship…rather than being caught up in what we plan to do next. On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, some of his followers were travelling to Emmaus, about 10km away, when a stranger overheard their conversation, came near, listened and shared with them. When they reached their destination, the stranger accepted the invitation to stay and shared a meal. He is then revealed as the risen Christ. Their response is to run – back to Jerusalem. A walk becomes a run!
On Good Friday, I had high anticipation of my walk to church to support Walk for Hope. I only walked 7km or so, not over mountains, or along roads, like our friends in Zimbabwe. I reflected on what would come from this walking. Walk for Hope will support the ongoing sharing of the good news of the risen Lord. Our partners across the world will be inviting those who hear to walk with Jesus.