Only two weeks to go until I set off on pilgrimage in Spain. It will take me a month to walk the 800kms from St Jean Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in the north-western corner of Spain. I started training last July and have been working on gathering together the things I’ll need for the trek. Preparing my body and my gear has been the easy part. Preparing my mind, heart and soul has been more complicated, but definitely more interesting and rewarding. I’ve been meditating on relevant passages of Scripture like Psalm 84 and Luke 9. The best book I’ve read was Charles Foster’s ‘The Sacred Journey’. This is not just an adventure – although it is that. Pilgrimage is about seeking God, waiting on him in an open-ended fashion without having a preconceived notion of what outcomes that might bring. It is simplifying life to what I can carry on my back and who I carry in my heart. Things that insulate me from the harshness of life can also insulate me from the discipline of God. These will be left behind. No books (except my map) no phone, no computer, no keys. The numbers might surprise you. People have been walking this pilgrim path for 1,000 years. About 200,000 people walk it each year – many more in a Holy Year. I’ll walk between 25kms and 30kms each day – some days more. And what will it all achieve? I’m not sure I care very much about the answer to that question. I’m not doing this to achieve anything in particular. I’m doing it to answer the call to be with Jesus on the road. What he will do with me, I can’t tell. I suspect it might have something to do with the people I will meet. I started out thinking and hoping I might be used by God to touch the lives of others. Although that might sound noble, it presents a classic trap of placing oneself in the superior ‘helper’ position. It would be so easy to wind up terribly proud and self-centred and insulate myself from what I can learn from others when I’m in a vulnerable place. I’ll let you know…
Something significant happened last week. One of my heroes, Keith Farmer, bowed out of leading the Mentoring Network that he founded and has stepped back to take only a consultative role on the team that steers the ship. He’s made noises before that he wanted to do this, but we have always managed to talk him out of it, persuading him to stay on just a little bit longer. But this time I sensed we needed to respect his position and allow him to withdraw with dignity. The fact is, he’s getting older and he knew it was time to step aside. I just want to go on record to say that Keith is a truly great servant of the Lord and it has been an absolute privilege to have followed in his footsteps. The rest of the leadership team of the Mentoring Network and I am glad he’s still around to refer to if we get stuck, but with gratitude we release him to take life at a slightly less manic pace. I now step into very big shoes, chairing the leadership team in Keith’s place, and I’m am so pleased to still be in partnership with Andrew McCafferty and Tim Dyer. We have some ideas to give the Network a good kick along in the next year. The recent Mentors Forum we ran in Melbourne was excellent in terms of quality, but we need to get the word out to gather more than 40 people next time, and work harder between Forums to build connectivity between members of the Network and provide a continuous stream of practical resources for Christian mentors.
I’m quietly excited about the release of the latest edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece. Now, some of you might think this is a bit left-field, but stick with me for a minute or two. This publication known as the NA28 is the last word in scholarship on the original Greek text of the New Testament. You might be aware that there are hundreds and hundreds of fragments of the New Testament written on parchments dating way back to the third, second and even first centuries. Study of these parchments is what makes our modern translations of the Bible so very accurate and reliable. These parchments have slight variations at some points, and the scholars spend a ridiculous amount of time combing over them to choose the very best, most reliable reading. If you’ve ever wondered how we can really be sure we’ve got the Word of God, this highly technical area of study is a big part of the reason. So why am I excited? Well, for years there has been hot debate about Jude 5. Your Bible probably says something like, “The Lord delivered his people out of Egypt…”, and in the footnotes it might say, “Some early manuscripts Jesus“. That’s because some of those old parchments containing Jude have, “the Lord” and some have “Jesus” in verse 5. In past editions of Novum Testamentum Graece the editors have wrestled with these alternatives and plumped for the former reading, not just on textual grounds but also on theological ones – they have found it difficult to believe that Jude would actually have originally written “Jesus” in that place. But now, further manuscripts have been studied and the weight of evidence is too strong to deny that it is far more likely that Jude wrote “Jesus” than that he wrote “the Lord”. If Jesus delivered his people out of Egypt, an act clearly attributed to God (Yahweh) in the Old Testament, then Jesus and Yahweh are one and the same. The difference this makes is profound. Some critics of Christianity and some unorthodox theologians have tried to assert that the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus was a fourth century (or later) invention of the church and not part of the gospel taught by the apostles. This reading of Jude 5, confirmed in NA28, is another very strong piece of evidence that Christians in the first century believed that Jesus was divine – in fact, even Jesus’ brother Jude believed it and taught it! Okay, that’s the end of the textual criticism lecture. It’s all right if you’re still scratching your head. But trust me, this is an important development and I love that it honours my Lord and Saviour!
Anamcara, my little business in mentoring, consulting and training, is doing okay. Little by little I’m building up a clientele of individuals, churches, boards and Colleges. I still have plenty of capacity to take on more work, so please get the word out to whoever you think might be interested. The email address is rick at anamcaraconsulting dot org dot au.
I always love to hear from you so please post a comment or drop me an email. I’d really appreciate keeping in touch.
Grace and peace,