Place setter

to be a pilgrimReview by Alan Ray

Book | To be a Pilgrim: a reflective guide to the Holy Land | Bradly Billings

The stony plateau of Bethlehem, the calm expanse of Galilee and the smells and bustle of Jerusalem are all evoked in this book.

Reading it we can either be an armchair pilgrim or use it as a guide for a real visit to the Holy Land to follow Jesus’s journeyings from birth to resurrection.    

Bradly Billings, a Melbourne Anglican bishop, who labels Israel as the Land of the Holy One, provides maps, photos and meditations as an aid to our reflections. There is also practical travel advice.

Following Mark’s gospel narrative, the author has shaped this guide from Bethlehem and Nazareth via the Jordan and Galilee, finishing in Jerusalem.

Each chapter references the relevant Biblical passage and includes the reflections of theologians or well-known hymns which capture the atmosphere in poetic language.

So often we ignore the context of the New Testament landscape. Perhaps we miss the impact of the original message when we are surrounded by robed choirs, vested clergy and our well-dressed neighbours amongst the stained glass and comfortable interiors of our churches. 

Seeing the actual locations brings a fresh perspective to the message.

Billings poignantly describes the beatitude found near the sea of Galilee and the scene of the transfiguration on Mt Tabor as locations where we are afforded a glimpse and a foretaste of the glory of God breaking in from heaven.

Many churches contain screens on which an image could be projected of the location of the Gospel reading. This would stimulate reflection of the relevance of the place where the events occurred.

We often describe ourselves as a pilgrim people always following the way of the Cross. Most religious traditions practise pilgrimages to their holy places and they were once common for Christians. This excellent volume reminds us that we should always walk, at least metaphorically, in the footsteps of our Lord and thus be reminded of our roots in the faith.

Available from Morning Star Publishing, RRP: $21

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