Pilgrim: A Course for the Christian Journey - Turning to Christ

Pilgrim: A Course for the Christian Journey - Turning to Christ

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Overview

Pilgrim: A Course for the Christian Journey - Turning to Christ by Stephen Cottrell, Steven Croft

Pilgrim is a teaching and discipleship resource that helps inquirers and new Christians explore what it means to travel through life with Christ. A Christian course for the twenty-first century, Pilgrim offers an approach of participation, not persuasion. Following the practice of the ancient disciplines of biblical reflection and prayer with quotes from the Christian tradition throughout the ages, Pilgrim assumes little or no knowledge of the Christian faith. Individuals or small groups on the journey of discipleship in the Episcopal tradition can use Pilgrim at any point. There are many different aspects to helping people learn about the Christian faith. We have taken as our starting point Jesus’ summary of the commandments. We are called to offer our lives to God through loving God with all our mind, soul, strength and heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Learning about Christian faith and growing in Christian faith is about more than what we believe. It’s also about the ways in which we pray and develop our relationship with God, about the way we live our lives and about living in God’s vision for the Church and for the world. There are two stages of material in Pilgrim. There are four short Pilgrim books (each comprising a course of six sessions) in the “Follow” Stage designed for those who are enquirers and very new to the faith. Then there are four short Pilgrim books (again, each comprising a six-session course) in the “Grow” Stage designed for those who want to go further and learn more. Pilgrim is made up of two parts, each with four courses contained in four booklets: Follow: Do you turn to Christ? Releasing in March 2016 1. Turning to Christ 2. The Lord's Prayer 3. The Commandments 4. The Beatitudes Grow: Will you continue in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship? Releasing October 2016 5. The Creeds 6. The Eucharist 7. The Bible 8. Church&Kingdom Each course offers six sessions each that combine a simple prayer, reflection on a biblical selection using lectio divina, an article by a modern writer, and reflection questions. The short courses in the four “Follow” stage books can be approached in any order. Together, we believe they offer a balanced introduction to the Christian life and journey. Our hope and prayer is that Pilgrim will help to introduce people to the Christian Way and also equip them to live their whole lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. It will help inquirers and those new to the Christian faith as well as those who are new to The Episcopal Church or Episcopalians who wish to refresh and renew their learning commitment to Christ. The aim of the “Grow” stage is to help people to learn the essentials for a life of discipleship. A disciple is to be called to live in a rhythm of being with Jesus in community and to be sent out to live out the Christian faith in the whole of his or her life. Disciples need the support of other Christians and to be part of a community. We need opportunities to reflect and pray together and to explore the riches of our faith. The Grow stage supports that process both for new Christians and for those who have been Christians for many years. Some groups who use the Grow material will be moving on from the Follow stage of Pilgrim. Some will be specially convened just for this stage. Component descriptions: Leader’s Guide The Pilgrim Leader’s Guide has lots of helpful material for those who are leading any Pilgrim Group. A single guide covers all eight booklets and gives an overview of the program as well as a process of how to lead a group of youth or adults in discussing the material. This is an essential tool for anyone who wishes to offer any portion of Pilgrim in a small group, whether in church, school, or home. Worship material, liturgies for enrollment in the catechumenate, and additional resources are also included.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780898699395
Publisher: Church Publishing Inc.
Publication date: 03/01/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 76
File size: 134 KB

About the Author

Stephen Cottrell is the Bishop of Chelmsford (Church of England).

Steven Croft is the Bishop of Sheffield (Church of England)

Paula Gooder is a leading New Testament writer and lecturer (Church of England)

Robert Atwell is the Bishop of Stockport (Church of England)

Sharon Ely Pearson has been the Christian Formation Specialist for
Church Publishing Incorporated / Morehouse Education Resources since
November 2007. Prior to joining CPI, she was the Children’s Ministries
& Christian Education Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of
Connecticut for 10 years. A graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary and a lifelong Episcopalian, she lives in Norwalk, Connecticut with her husband, John, of 36 years, Shadow the cat, and Chobe a year-old rescue black Lab.

Read an Excerpt

Turning to Christ

A Course for the Christian Journey


By STEPHEN COTTRELL, Steven Croft, Paula Gooder, Robert Atwell, Sharon Ely Pearson

Church Publishing Incorporated

Copyright © 2016 Stephen Cottrell, Steven Croft, Robert Atwell and Paula Gooder
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-89869-939-5



CHAPTER 1

SESSION ONE:

DO YOU TURN TO JESUS CHRIST?


In this session we look at the attraction and the attractiveness of Jesus Christ. We start with a story about people finding Jesus and spending time with him.


Opening Prayers

Lord, lead me on the way of faith:
help me to follow Christ.

Open my heart to receive your love,
open my mind to understand your word.

Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

For you, Lord, are good and forgiving,
and great is your love toward all who call upon you.

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
knit my heart to you that I may fear your Name.

I will thank you, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
and glorify your Name for evermore.
PSALM 86:4-5, 11-12

Now that we have been put right with God through faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
He has brought us by faith into the grace of God.
We rejoice in the hope of sharing God's glory.
This hope does not deceive us:
God has poured his love into our hearts by the gift of his Spirit.
BASED ON ROMANS 5:1-2, 5

Loving God, open my eyes to see Jesus
and to know his purpose for my life.

Amen.


Conversation

What made you come to this course? Share something that has prompted you to want to find out more about the Christian faith.


Reflecting on Scripture

Reading

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" 39 He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).

JOHN 1:35-42


Explanatory note

The word Messiah is, as the passage says, the Hebrew for "anointed." In Greek this word is Christ.

The John referred to in the passage is John the Baptist (or baptizer), a prophet and contemporary of Jesus. We will look at his role in more detail in Session Two.

• Read the passage through once.

• Keep a few moments' silence.

• Read the passage a second time with different voices.

• Invite everyone to say aloud a word or phrase that strikes them.

• Read the passage a third time.

• Share together what this word or phrase might mean and what questions it raises.


Reflection

STEPHEN COTTRELL

"Who are you looking for?"

There's a clue in the title of this session. The Christian faith is all about Jesus Christ. Without Jesus there is no Christianity.

Jesus was a real person. We know of his life, his death, and its impact from sources outside of the Bible and from archaeological evidence.

The question that each of us needs to answer is not "Did Jesus exist?", but "Who is he?" Was he just a brilliantly inspired teacher, preacher, and healer? Or was he, as the Christian faith proclaims, God's Son, born as one of us, come to save us from ourselves?

You wouldn't be reading this at all if you didn't have some sort of inkling that this astonishing claim is actually the world's most precious and important truth. But the truth about Jesus is not a truth that can conclusively be demonstrated in the same way as we could demonstrate that two and two is four and that the sun rises in the east. The truth about Jesus is the truth of a relationship.

What God has done in Jesus is reveal his purpose to us in the only language we really understand: that is the language of another human life. God in Jesus isn't just teaching us God's way or God's law; he is actually showing us God's love. He is showing us what God is like. And we human beings can only understand love through relationships. That is why God sends a man, not a manifesto: a person, not a statement.

Therefore you can only go so far in understanding the Christian faith by reading about it or talking about it. To understand the Christian faith, you have to get to know Jesus. You have to become a pilgrim in the Christian way.

Talking to other Christians will help enormously. Reading the Bible is indispensable. But we also need to learn to pray and to worship. That's why this course will involve as much praying and reflecting as it will do talking and reading. That's why in the Bible passage we are looking at in this session we find people coming to Jesus, finding out about him by entering into relationship with him.

"What are you looking for?" asks Jesus. This is one of life's most important questions. What do we really want in life? What are our greatest hopes and desires? What do we long for? Those two people spend the whole day with Jesus, talking to him, asking him questions, learning from him. It has such an impact that, on leaving, the first thing they do is to tell others that they have found the Messiah. Andrew then brings his brother to Jesus.


"Look, the Lamb of God"

Right at the beginning of this passage when John sees Jesus he says, "Look, here is the Lamb of God." As we have already noted, at the end Andrew says, "We have found the Messiah." These words and phrases may not mean much at the moment, but they are deeply significant.

When John said that Jesus was the Lamb of God he was saying something profoundly important about who Jesus is. Jesus and all his first followers were Jews, and the event that formed the Jewish people was the Exodus. This was when God saved them from slavery in Egypt. Many plagues and torments were visited upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but they wouldn't let Moses and God's people go free.

Eventually God sent an angel of death to kill the firstborn of everyone in Egypt. But God saved the firstborn of the people of Israel, and so that they were marked out as those to be saved God told them to slaughter a lamb and paint its blood on their doors. Then the angel of death would "pass over." This is the origin of the Jewish Passover festival, a festival that Jesus faithfully kept each year. But when John says of Jesus, "He is the Lamb of God," those first listeners would have immediately associated Jesus with the Passover lamb, the one whose blood indicated salvation.

We will explore much more about this as we go through this course and begin to piece together what Christians believe, but for now it is important to note that from the very beginning, the first followers of Jesus and the early Church always understood Jesus to be the one sent by God to bring salvation, not just to the Jewish people, but to everyone. He is the Messiah; that is the one anointed and chosen by God to bring God's reign of peace on earth.


Concluding Prayer

Almighty God,
your Son has opened for us
a new and living way into your presence.
Give us new hearts and constant wills
that we may learn of your love
and come to worship you in spirit and in truth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.


Sending Out

During this next week reflect on what you have learned and explored in this session. Think about Jesus and how and why you are attracted to him, and through him to God. What else could you be doing this week to get to know Jesus better?

These readings may help you in your reflections:

When the picture of someone has been painted on wood, but then damaged by the elements, we need the presence of that person whose portrait it was if we are to restore their image. And if this material is not discarded, it is because we value and wish to restore the image painted on it. In the same way, the most holy Son of the Father, being the image of the Father, has come into our midst to renew us who have been made similar to him. He seeks us out when we are lost, pardoning our sins, as Scripture says: "I have come to search out and to save that which was lost."

ATHANASIUS (295–373)

Let your door stand open to receive Christ, unlock your soul to him, offer him a welcome in your mind, and then you will see the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace, and the joy of grace. Throw wide the gate of your heart, stand before the sun of the everlasting light that shines on everyone. This true light shines on all, but if any close their windows they will deprive themselves of eternal light. If you shut the door of your mind, you shut out Christ. Though he can enter, he does not want to force his way in rudely, or compel us to admit him against our will.

AMBROSE (C. 334–397)

Lord, let me seek you in desiring you:
and desire you in seeking you.
Let me find you by loving you,
and love you in finding you.

ANSELM (1033–1109)

To follow Jesus gives us no intelligible program for a way of life, no goal or ideal to strive after. It is not a cause which human calculation might deem worthy of devotion. At Jesus' call the disciples leave everything that they have — not because they think that they might be doing something worthwhile, but simply for the sake of the call. Otherwise they cannot follow in the steps of Jesus. The disciples burn their boats and go ahead. They are dragged out of their relative security into a life of absolute insecurity. When we are called to follow Christ, we are summoned to an exclusive attachment to his person. The grace of his call bursts all the bonds of legalism. It is a gracious call, a gracious commandment. Christ calls; we are to follow.

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER (1906–1945)

CHAPTER 2

SESSION TWO:

DO YOU BELIEVE AND TRUST IN GOD THE FATHER?


In this session we look at what Christians believe about God. We start with a story from the Old Testament, the record of God's dealings with the world before Jesus, where God is revealed as one who cares and loves — like a father or parent.


Opening Prayers

Lord, lead me on the way of faith:
help me to follow Christ.

Open my heart to receive your love,
open my mind to understand your word.

I love you, O Lord my strength.
O Lord my stronghold, my crag, and my haven.

My God, my rock in whom I put my trust,
my shield, the horn of my salvation, and my refuge;
you are worthy of praise.

I called upon the Lord in my distress
and cried out to my God for help.

He heard my voice from his heavenly dwelling;
my cry of anguish came to his ears.
PSALM 18:1-2, 6-7


Now that we have been put right with God through faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
He has brought us by faith into the grace of God.
We rejoice in the hope of sharing God's glory.
This hope does not deceive us:
God has poured his love into our hearts by the gift of his Spirit.
BASED ON ROMANS 5:1-2, 5


Generous God, loving Father, in Jesus you are one with us so that we may be one with you. Help me walk the way of pilgrim faith, following the path of Christ. Amen.


Conversation

What are the qualities you look for in a great parent? Share some of your best experiences of being a parent or of being a child.


Reflecting on Scripture

Reading

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 2 The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. 3 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. 4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them. HOSEA 11:1-4


Explanatory note

Egypt was where the people of God were slaves before Moses led them out across the Red Sea.

The Baals refers to the images worshipped by the Canaanites (the people who lived in the promised land before the people of God). They were images of Baal, the Canaanite God of thunder and fertility.

Ephraim is another name for Israel.

• Read the passage through once.

• Keep a few moments' silence.

• Read the passage a second time with different voices.

• Invite everyone to say aloud a word or phrase that strikes them.

• Read the passage a third time.

• Share together what this word or phrase might mean and what questions it raises.


Reflection

PAULA GOODER

"I taught them to walk"

When you think about God, what kind of pictures come to mind? An old man with a white beard? A king sitting on a throne? Someone distant and far away?

The Bible uses many different images to talk about God, but one of the most common is that of God as a father. Hosea 11:1-4 is a particularly evocative image of God as a parent teaching a wobbly toddler to walk and then catching them in his arms and holding them next to his cheek. It is a beautiful image full of tenderness and love.

Unlike other ancient religions from this part of the world, God is not always described as a distant, all powerful God. God is also portrayed as a loving, caring God who cherishes and nurtures the people.

When we get into the New Testament, this image of God as our loving father has developed even further. In the Old Testament, God is described as "like" a father, not just a distant, powerful king; but in the New Testament Jesus encourages us not just to think of God as like a Father, but to address him as Father (as in the Lord's Prayer: "Our Father ...").

Jesus intends us to relate to God, just like he does to a loving Father who cares for us so much he is ready at any moment to sweep us into his arms and hold us against his cheek.

This changes our relationship with God almost entirely. It reminds us that God is not a distant tyrant figure ready to swoop down and punish us whenever we put a foot wrong; but a loving, tender father who aches with love for us as we try to walk with wobbly, hesitant footsteps.

The problem, of course, is that the word "Father" is not a positive one for everyone. We use human imagery of God to help us to understand a bit more about who he is and how we relate to him but, frankly, sometimes this human imagery gets in the way.

If we struggle with our human families, then the thought of a divine family will hardly inspire us. What is important is that you allow yourself to recognize that you are loved with a love that transcends any human experience you might ever have had. What is important is the love not the words we use to describe it.


An angry God?

One of the things that most puts people off God is the description of his anger. This is most obvious in the Old Testament, but you do find it in the New Testament as well. If God is really a loving God, how can he be so angry?

The answer seems to be found in that love. The angry God we meet, particularly in the prophets, is angry because he loves his people so much. The book of Hosea is a particularly interesting example of this. The story of God's anger is told through the lens of the prophet Hosea, who is deeply and profoundly let down by a woman he loves.

Hosea tells us that God feels just like this. God loves the people and is let down again and again by them. As a result God is angry but expresses that anger in the hope that they will return and love God again. Anyone who has found themselves in that position (and we all are from time to time) must surely sympathize with God's loving anger towards God's people.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Turning to Christ by STEPHEN COTTRELL, Steven Croft, Paula Gooder, Robert Atwell, Sharon Ely Pearson. Copyright © 2016 Stephen Cottrell, Steven Croft, Robert Atwell and Paula Gooder. Excerpted by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Welcome to Pilgrim,
Introduction to Turning to Christ,
Session One: Do You Turn to Jesus Christ?,
Session Two: Do You Believe in God the Father?,
Session Three: Do You Believe in His Son Jesus Christ?,
Session Four: Do You Believe in God the Holy Spirit?,
Session Five: Do You Repent of Your Sins?,
Session Six: Do You Renounce Evil?,
Session Seven: Will You, with God's Help?,
Notes,

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