Why There is So Much Hope for Britain

“There are hidden lessons from our past, stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us.”

The British Pilgrimage of Hope starts in 3 months’ time. If you book by the 25th of April you could save £70 and more on your fees. A bunch of University students coming from the USA and some High School students from Cape Town, South Africa will be joining young people from the UK as pilgrims this year. But why would YOU come?

Have you heard of St Patrick? A couple of years ago Dan Snow did a fascinating documentary called ‘How the Celts Saved Britain’. It documents the story of Patrick as well as Columba and Aiden; three Christian men who lived in the 4th to 6th centuries, each leading a different phase in the revolution of British and therefore European culture. It turns out that these men, by living out their Christian faith in fellowship with others around them, not only brought peace and life but the art of reading and writing, science and art, culture and knowledge to the land. They led the transformation of Ireland and Scotland out of druidism and barbarism, and brought an incarnational, holistic Christian faith and culture to the north of England. On the Pilgrimage we’ll actually retrace the steps of these men and discover how they achieved what they did.

Throughout Britain’s history from time to time people have arisen who have built movements that have lead our nation and culture back from ‘the edge’ and into life. Think of the 18th century when England was saved from a bloody revolution as happened in France, by the movement of faith and social action led by men and women of faith like the Wesleys, the Clapham Sect and many others. As a result of the work of these ordinary people who started great movements, Britain’s culture has been forever changed. We now feel deeply about the rights of all children to be safe and to flourish; we know that all people have equal value and our concept of human rights reinforces in us that slavery for instance, is an offence and that it is right to care for the interests of the poor and vulnerable. This was not the case before, and as pilgrims we’ll explore how this change occurred.

“We will not hide these truths from our children, we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord about his power and his mighty wonders. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children so that the next generation might know them, even the children not yet born.”

 

In recent generations we have not always been good at remembering the stories of men and women in our past who did the best they knew how to bring peace and mercy and justice, and who shaped the world as we know it today. But as we look at our past it is easy to see the hand of God at work, in his mercy raising up groups of friends who brought us back to the ‘things that would make for our peace’. How about the town or village where you come from? Who are the heroes from your past? The ones our hearts really rise to, the ones we love to hear about, are often not the most powerful or rich, but the ordinary people who made a difference in other people’s lives and made our community a better place. These are the stories to celebrate, they are the stories that show us God’s hand in our history. These are the stories that tell us what we care most about.

“So that each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they won’t be like their ancestors – stubborn, rebellious and unfaithful - refusing to give their hearts to God.

 

 

These stories inspire us, they give us hope that things can be different today. As we look around us we see groups of friends in every community, committed to making their world a better place. We see people who, because of their faith in God, are working to bring help and justice and hope to the poor and the vulnerable. Yes, there is much that needs healing and in many ways we are close to where we were in the 18th century when things were pretty dire. However history is also repeating itself in other ways as God continues to raise up small groups of friends who are transforming their world today. We’ll be meeting and working under the leadership of some of these present day heroes on our mission training experience for the Pilgrimage. Christ’s life, death and resurrection show us the ‘things that would make for our peace’ – peace with ourselves, one another, with the world around us and with God. An experience like this Pilgrimage helps us see that it is in our own interest, and that of our nation, to turn our hearts to God. So come on and book your place here!

(The quotes through this post are taken from Psalm 78 NLT)

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