The age-old practice of pilgrimage is more popular today than it has been for centuries. At a time when the Church - indeed, Christianity itself - seems increasingly exiled and estranged from our culture, more and more people are treading the ancient pilgrim routes, whether they are committed Christians, spiritual seekers or simply curious. And the renewal and refreshment of faith that they find on their journey often outweighs what happens in many churches. In this book, Andrew Jones shows how pilgrimage has the power to awaken those at all stages of belief to remembering the story of God's creating and redeeming work in history, the story that tells us who we are, where we have come from and where we are going. The act of remembering it not only offers a life-transforming way out of exile but points to the way home, to the place where we can live an authentic and balanced life. The book concludes with a focus on eight popular places of pilgrimage in the British Isles, drawing out lessons from their history and spiritual heritage that can encourage and inspire us on our own faith journeys. Andrew Jones writes: More people than ever before are going on retreats. Many of them are not those who attend church every Sunday and almost all of them are seeking space, time and fellowship for rest, peace, breathing space, perspective and spirituality. These are the things that enable the mind and heart to be joined in that inner place where God is present to every human being. All of us have this inner place; a retreat is an opportunity for a given group of people to discover that place, gently and carefully, in an environment of peace and beauty. Similarly, pilgrimage has been at the heart of human spirituality since the beginning of time. Today, many people are searching for those traditions that inspired early Christians, particularly at times when the faith was vibrant. The increasing pilgrimage traffic shows that modern-day Christians are rediscovering the historical importance and significance of pilgrimage - it's an experience that often provides that vital link between the inner journey of the heart and the outer pilgrimage of life. In my new book Pilgrimage: the journey to remembering our story I explore how pilgrimage wakens people at all stages of belief to remembering the story of God's creating and redeeming work in history. It helps to tell us who we are, where we have come from and where we are going. I also make the claim that the contemporary church seems increasingly and tragically exiled and estranged from our culture. Significantly, this act of remembering - pivotal to pilgrimage - not only offers a life-transforming way out of that exile situation but points to the way 'home'. Many places of pilgrimage beckon and draw not only people but also that inner place within people. They are described by some as 'thin places' - where the boundary between heaven and earth hardly exists at all! Bringing the experience of retreat, pilgrimage and that worrying exile place that much of the contemporary church finds itself in together could prove transfiguring and transforming. It may even be an opportunity for our own faith and Christian discipleship to be refreshed and challenged.
This book speaks to our condition: we feel exiled from our former sense of a familiar environmental, political and religious landscape. It compellingly points a way forward through prophetic, ancient faith-future faith pilgrimage. Ray Simpson, Founding Guardian, The Community of Aidan and Hilda In this inspiring and insightful book, Andrew Jones invites us to travel with him as he unravels enriching conversation between God's story in scripture, the sacred locations of pilgrimage, and the joys and tragedies of individual human lives. Leslie J Francis, Professor of Religions and Education, University of Warwick From The Diocese of Hereford Newspaper - Summer 2012 In the second half of this excellent paperback, (nicely produced on very white paper), Andrew Jones, an experienced pilgrimage leader, invites us to accompany individual pilgrims to eight shrines, including Canterbury, Pennant Melangell, and Glendalough. We learn of different reasons for going on pilgrimage, and the life-giving transformation it offers. The journeying together is seen to strength faith and enliven hope. This is all set in the theological context of Exile - as experienced by God's people in the Old Testament and in the Church today. The reader needs a little patience as this theme is developed, but it is worth persevering as there is prophetic challenge for the church to sing the old songs differently and to trust God to lead us home with joy. Reviewed by Val Hamer From The Church Times - 26 August 2011 Andrew Jones is an archdeacon and parish priest in Wales. He leads many pilgrimages, and his book is the fruit of many conversations with fellow-pilgrims. It is a book of two halves: in the second, he describes eight popular places of pilgrimage in the British Isles, providing a historical background to each, and giving us a "flavour" of them by re counting stories of pilgrims whom he has met on the way. There is always a danger in this approach of being overly anecdotal, but Jones avoids this, and uses the stories of individuals to show how a place and the journey to it can be transforming and renewing. The first half of the book is more theological. It looks at biblical notions of exile and remembrance, and examines how the individual believer can bring the story of his or her life to the biblical narratives of journeying, being in exile, and coming home; and how the interleaving of the biblical narratives and personal experience can be transforming. There is much food for thought here, both for seasoned pilgrims and for those who, perhaps, wonder what the point is of going on pilgrimage at all. Reviewed by Peter McGear