A Closer Walk With Thee 2014-15
A Closer Walk With Thee
(Recently concluded but watch it on our website!)
To download a PDF of the Spiritual Workbook for A Closer Walk With Thee, please click here.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I invite you to walk a spiritual pathway that can change your life. It is called A Closer Walk with Thee. We all hunger for intimacy with Jesus and, as the classic spiritual hymn of the same name captures,
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea.
A Closer Walk with Thee is more than a Bible Study, though it is that, too. It is a pilgrimage in the Spirit. It is a prayerful, spiritual, imaginative, intellectual engagement with the living Spirit of Christ through the biblical scriptures. It is “a closer walk” with Jesus through his life, from Annunciation to Resurrection. It engages the Bible, scholarship, imaginative prayer, a travelogue, the arts, and communal sharing. This spiritual practice can deliver that soul satisfaction we receive in the power of the Spirit.
A Closer Walk with Thee, our parish theme for the year, is based on the book Pilgrimage by James Martin, S.J, which itself is partially based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The genius of the Spiritual Exercises is that they deliver deep engagement with Jesus. The genius of James Martin’s book is that it creatively simplifies this methodology for people with crazy, chaotic lives.
A Closer Walk with Thee uses a mode of prayer that is often known as Ignatian Contemplation, which is a form of imaginative prayer. The method is simple: Using all of your senses, you imagine yourself in the biblical story. It has proved to be a very effective way for the Spirit to work in us. Many of the great saints have used it. Moreover, it is fun—perfect for people whose minds wander and wonder!
We will use James Martin’s book Jesus: A Pilgrimage as a starting point. You can read the book, but it is not required. (It is available in the Lion’s Den Bookstore.) You will receive a free spiritual workbook which we have put together (entitled A Closer Walk with Thee) that includes the appointed scriptures, further guidelines for Ignatian prayer, a schedule, and a small Jesus devotional. We will do one event in Jesus’ life per week (one chapter in Martin’s book). During the week you are to imaginatively enter the scripture as though you are there. The more you do it, the deeper your experience. Keep a journal of your thoughts and insights, perhaps in the workbook. Add the devotional prayers, if your heart is so moved, and let the Spirit of our Lord work within you.
On Sunday mornings we will gather in Morrill Hall at 9AM to share our experiences and insights in a communal conversation. Each session will begin with an introduction that highlights the scripture, some scholarship, Martin’s insights and sometimes art and pictures of the place in the story.
In the spring, after the spiritual pilgrimage of A Closer Walk with Thee is complete, we will go on a real pilgrimage to the Holy Land with St. Luke’s in Darien. This trip will be in conjunction with the American Friends of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem.
I have no doubt that just as Jesus fell in stride with the disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), so he will fall in step with each of us as we seek a closer walk with Him. Those same disciples proclaimed, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” That is my prayer for each of us: May our hearts burn with his presence.
Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus,
The Reverend Peter F. Walsh, Rector