In this season of pilgrimage, we might remember the many people who have found their journey a source of awe and wonder. Although what produces the sense of wonder might not be what was expected. This happened to me recently.
I was lucky enough to journey down the Nile recently. Near the start of the tour, I found myself looking at a temple built to honour Ramesses II. It was impossible not to be filled with awe and wonder: at the sheer size of the statues, knowing they had all been transported by hand; at a people who 4000 years ago who could free so many people from the task of food production; at an ego that could believe its owner was that important. The temple is dedicated to the Sun God but there is no doubt whose image we all take away.
Later, when Christianity took over people used the temples that already existed and converted parts of them into churches. As we walked deeper into the temple of Ramesses 2 our guide pointed out a simple picture. Without his torch to guide us, we would never have seen the group of simple men, humbly dressed and eating the everyday food of the poor, bread and wine. It was not possible to pick out one of the figures as having more significance. I find myself so proud to be a Christian. This is not because the Judeo-Christian story is the one that I am part of but because I am part of a religion that understands that real power does not come from what we have or from our status. It reminded me of a story, perhaps familiar to many. When Jesus ascended to Heaven, God asked him ‘Son what have you done to further my work on earth?’ Jesus replied ‘I have left 12 friends.’ God asks ‘Is that all?’ and the reply: ‘I have no other plans.’
Amazingly, over 2000 years later we re-enact that simple meal, Sunday by Sunday alongside Christians all over the world. Now that fills me with awe and wonder.