A month’s rainfall in four days was not enough to dampen the spirits of young pilgrims on this year’s recent youth pilgrimage to Walsingham. Between 27th – 31st July the heavens opened and dumped 74mm of rain on over 600 pilgrims camping in a field on the edge of the village, yours truly among them! Reminiscent of a family camping holiday in Scotland I remained cold and damp most of the week, yet this week away from the daily routine of parish life remains one of the highlights of the church’s year for me and this year did not disappoint.
The theme for the pilgrimage was “Abba, Father.” The term “Abba” was used by Jesus in addressing God as his Father. St Paul also teaches that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba Father, which can be translated as “Dearest Father” and it provided the ideal opportunity to explore the meaning of the prayer in which Jesus taught us to call God, Our Father………..
Though, by now you will have probably guessed that there was also an Abba musical theme running throughout the whole week. The daily services were peppered with familiar Abba tunes with re-written words for use in worship. There was even an Abba tribute band for the last night disco. Needless to say the clergy old enough to remember Abba the first time round thoroughly enjoyed themselves and it gave them the opportunity to wear their 1970’s gear again. The 250 young people from Sweden also seemed to enjoy the tribute to this famous Swedish band.
Amidst the fun and games of the week the words of the Lord’s Prayer shaped the pilgrimage and enabled the young people to understand a prayer that is familiar to millions of Christians around the world. Though, sadly the prayer that was once on the tongue of our nation is being lost to generations of people. Today the Lord’s Prayer is not always taught in our schools. Yet it still remains the family prayer of the Church and ought to be on the lips of all the baptised and if parents cannot teach their children it then perhaps it is left to grandparents to teach their grandchildren to pray it.
This year’s youth pilgrimage not only gave the young people from our deanery a fantastic experience, it also gave them the opportunity to learn what it means to address God as “Abba Father” and to join with other young people in both worship and prayer. I look forward to next year.
So I say thank you for the music……….