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Bible studies on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

Bible studies on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

PJP Bible studies
Photo: Peter Williams/WCC

Genesis 12:1–9 “Pilgrimage onto already-settled land”, by Jione Havea

Abram’s journey in Genesis 12 as a response to God’s guidance becomes a pilgrimage of blessings. The unnamed destination of his pilgrimage is encountering people and their land. Abram will become a a kind of “platform” of blessings among other peoples and nations, rather than an exemplar of the exercise of power and control over those peoples and their land. As God commissioned Abram to go forth as a source of blessings, God calls us to go in the pilgrimage of blessings.

Ruth 1:1–22 "Pilgrimage as Solidarity", by Yolanda Pantou

The migration of Ruth to Bethlehem can be understood as a kind of pilgrimage because she chose to immigrate as a form of solidarity with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Her journey of migration changes Ruth’s beliefs, values, and path of life. The text speaks about two stories of immigration—the first one is caused by scarcity of basic provisions, and the second one is propelled by solidarity. We can see similarities between pilgrimage and immigration. There are shared elements of journey, importance, unpredictability, encounters, conversion, solidarity, openness, closeness, and divine providence. The story of Ruth and Naomi provides a biblical understanding of pilgrimage of justice and peace in relation to immigration.

Genesis 21:8-21 “Hagar’s Journey/Pilgrimage”, by Jennifer Martin

The Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace reaches out to persons who are mired in the wilderness of injustice and who lack peace, as in the story of Hagar’s journey in Genesis. The story is reflected in the story of the Caribbean. Levels of inequality between women and men still exist in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. The story of Hagar unfolds God’s plans through selected agents. As the Caribbean seeks to journey toward peace and justice in the matter of social justice, human rights, and human reproductive rights, responsibilities and practices, the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace can effectively play a supportive role.

Micah 6:1-8 "What Does God Expect of You? A Pilgrimage of Reconciliation with God and with Our Neighbor", by Jin Yang Kim

The prophet Micah asks a crucial question in the midst of injustice and violence in 8th-century B.C.E. Judean society: “What does God expect of you?” This is also a question that we must ask ourselves today as we are invited to join in the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. The answer is clear: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). The first two commands stand at the centre of Israel’s faith-talk, concerning the love of neighbour (Lev. 19:18) and the love of God (Deut. 6:5). The third command is to walk humbly, which could be misleading. To walk humbly is the opposite of walking proudly or self-righteously, and actually invites us to the faith journey of self-giving, self-sacrifice, and self-emptying. So the question, “What does God expect of you?” leads us to the restoration of God’s image in us and is an invitation to become agents of transformation in the world.

Matthew 10:1-42 "Jesus Sends Out the Twelve – On a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace", by Fernando Enns

Jesus sends out his disciples to the world of injustice and violence. The disciples, who are on a pilgrimage, are not saints but ordinary people, and they are not sent with empty hands but with power to force out evil spirits (Matt. 10:1). As Jesus warns the disciples,“I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves” (Matt. 10:16). The Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is not an easy walk. It is a courageous and costly participation in God’s pilgrimage of justice and peace. Today, refugees bring justice and peace because God wants to meet us in them. In this way, the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace could be a channel of blessing because pilgrims themselves are the recipients.

Ephesians 2:11-21 "A pilgrimage of unity", by Susan Durber

In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul addresses the particular faith journey that the early Christians found themselves walking. Their pilgrimage is a journey of discovering the unity between Jews and the Gentiles, in which the Gentiles are welcomed into the covenant of promise. It invites us to wonder where God might be doing the work of reconciliation and building bridges today. God’s purpose is to lead all of us into unity with one another and to welcome those who were once strangers into the household. The reconciling love of God reaches beyond any borders.

Luke 24:13-35 "Pilgrimage to Emmaus", by Guido Dotti

The journey of the disciples to Emmaus in Luke 24 is not a pilgrimage toward Jerusalem but leaving it disillusionment. It is a journey of finding our hearts burning as the disciples of Emmaus’s hearts were burning at the moment of sharing a meal. The text invites us to find our own Emmaus where our heart to be kindled. Each of us meets unknown pilgrims who hide an unknown Jesus, but especially meets and encounters him- or herself, discovers that that he or she has a heart that hopes, eyes to see and ears to listen, and finds him- or herself in full solidarity with every human being. The story speaks about three places in which we meet the Risen Christ: scripture, eucharist, and community. It is a pilgrimage of hope and of expectation by listening to the Word, breaking the bread, and hearing the voice of the other because everyone is created in God’s image.

Jonah 4:1-11 “Invitation to tolerance and compassion”, by Magali do Nascimento Cunha (Pilgrimage Bible study)

The story of Jonah is about the compassionate God whose mercy has no geographical, cultural, political, and economic frontier. The dialogue between God and Jonah (Jonah 4:1-11), which is considered the climax of the Book of Jonah, is an invitation to overcome intolerance and to cultivate compassion. The dialogue consists of two main parts: the anger of Jonah (v. 1-5) and the compassion of God (v. 6-11). In the dialogue, Jonah becomes angry, but God responds to him with two questions: “Is it good for you to be angry?” (v. 4) and “Is it good for you to be angry about the plant?” (v. 9) which indicate the limitless and universal mercy of God. In this way, the story of Jonah invites us to the pilgrimage of tolerance and compassion.

Jonah 1:4-5 and 4:1-8 "Jonah and his Selective Ecological Concern", by Liz Vuadi Vibila (Pilgrimage Bible study)

The several climatic events in the Book of Jonah present all environmental concerns: the sea calming down (1:15), making a plant grow (4:6), and the sending of a worm (4:7), and all play a particular role in God’s plan. They are used in the text as divine emissaries, human begin is the only one to oppose God’s will in these dramatic scenes. The ecological problem and the attributes associated with the creatures remain a fundamental issue from Jonah to our current daily reality. The worm, a lowly creature, is elevated as well as the ephemeral plant. Accordingly, Jonah has to learn that the plant is appointed by God. The ecological reading on the Book of Jonah invites us to the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace in relation to the ecological justice.

Jonah 1:1-16 "Many Cultures, One Goal – Life", by Guido Dotti (Pilgrimage Bible study)

The story of the prophet Jonah tells us about a tortuous road of a call to conversion and about God’s infinite mercy both towards the reluctant prophet and towards “the great city in which there are more than a hundred twenty thousand persons … and a large number of animals” (Jonah 4:11).

Luke 24:13-35 "The Walk to Emmaus", by Susan Durber (Pilgrimage Bible study)

There are all sorts of pilgrimages for which one plans and prepares, looks forward to and anticipates with excitement. This story in Luke 24:13-35 is nothing like that. This is a story about a walk that comes from grief and trauma, from profound disappointment and sorrow. It is a story that starts with the slow steps of the depressed and cast down. But it ends with the excited running of the redeemed, and the joy of finding life transformed.

Luke 24: 13-35 - “Outside of their comfort zone”, by Jennifer Martin (Pilgrimage Bible study)

The Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is dedicated to the accompaniment of persons as they move along their journey, regardless of what their current circumstance might be. At times persons may be so overwhelmed by their past and present that they are incapable to grasp the help which is at hand. Pilgrims often need a patient, listening ear before they can draw the strength to carry on with their physical and spiritual pilgrimages.

Luke 24: 13-35 - "You'll Never Walk Alone", by Fernando Enns (Pilgrimage Bible study)

On 23 August 2018, a great ecumenical event took place in Amsterdam, the city where the World Council of Churches was founded 70 years ago. Many international ecumenical guests came to celebrate the birthday of that “privileged instrument” of the ecumenical movement. A symposium was held in the university, a great service was celebrated in the Nieuwe Kerk in the city center, and guests were welcomed by the mayor of Amsterdam and local church representatives. And many Amsterdamers came to join the festivities. Everything was livestreamed and broadcast.