Mid Week Reflection and Prayer – Stay Pilgrimage, Caesarea Philippi

This week Rev Derek Akker takes us further on our Stay Pilgrimage to Caesarea Philippi .

Pilgrimages to the Holy Land by there very nature involve much travelling and on and off buses. In our case it was the Nazareth Transport Company. I did have a photo taken of me patting a donkey in front of the sign Nazareth Transport Company. As serious as pilgrimages are you do need lighter moments.

In our Stay pilgrimage we are going to leave Galilee for the day, but first a prayer.

Creator God, you are the source of all life and motivation.
May we journey in faith and love, rejoicing and eager to serve you.
Grant us a glimpse of your glory as we seek to follow you –
The Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.

We travel, in our imagination some 40km, 25 miles north of Galilee is Caesarea Philippi, formerly Banias.
Jesus and the disciples will have walked the 40km or so to Caesarea Philippi. (Walking non stop at a reasonable pace would mean over 8 hours walking. I think we are fairly safe saying that this took more than a day). After this long walk the disciples are greeted by this picture, a rock face, a former religious shrine to the god Pan, often portrayed as being half man, half goat and playing a flute and flowing cold water. I think flowing cold water would be a very welcome sight after such a long walk.

Pilgrimages are not something that should be rushed and are crammed with endless information. It is often moments with few words that can bring you to a point where you sense something that is hard to put into words. This may be one of those moments.

I invite you to imagine you are here in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus is stood at the foot of this rock face and you hear him ask his disciples:

 . . . ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

We don’t know how the disciples initially responded to hearing these words, we only have Peter’s affirmation that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.

Let us ponder on Peter’s affirmation.
Why not think back to moments where you have, in the stillness of your heart, affirmed your belief in Jesus, the Christ. These do not have to be the blinding flash type of experiences; it may be a ‘Oh! I get that’ type of moment or where your heart felt strangely warmed.
Give thanks to the Lord for those moments where you have felt closer to the Lord.

The Lord’s Prayer 

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Join in and sing or listen to ‘Be still’ – click here.

Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the holy One, is here
Come bow before him now with reverence and fear
In him no sin is found we stand on holy ground
Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the holy One, is here

Be still, for the glory of the Lord is shining all around
He burns with holy fire, with splendor he is crowned
How awesome is the sight our radiant king of light
Be still, for the glory of the Lord is shining all around

Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister his grace
No work too hard for Him, in faith receive from him
Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place

May God the Father who created you, guide your footsteps,
May God the Son who redeemed you, share your journey,
May God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you, lead you on his life’s pilgrimage,
And the blessing of God Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you wherever you may go. Amen.

Prayers from Pilgrimage Prayers by Jenny Child (Canterbury Cathedral)

Derek Akker