Pilgrim’s Progress was written by John Bunyan in the seventeenth century and became, and has remained, a classic work of Christian faith. It is an allegory, describing ‘Christian’ along his journey to the ‘Celestial City’: every character and every experience is symbolic of our faith journey.
One scene came to mind this week as I was pondering my sermon. Christian is travelling with a companion named Hopeful. Their journey has been filled with trials and exhaustion, both physical and spiritual. At one point they had veered off the King’s Highway because this alternate way looked easier, and slept that night on the grounds of a castle. It turned out to be on the grounds of Doubting Castle, and its owner Giant Despair found them and locked them in his dark and nasty dungeon, where they were beaten and suffered terribly. The ordeal continued for three days and nights, and despite their wounds, they lifted up prayers of praise to God (like Paul and Silas in prison Acts 16:25). Just before dawn on the third day, Christian jumps up and exclaims ‘What a fool am I, to lie in this stinking dungeon, when I could just have easily been walking in liberty. I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that can, I am sure, open any lock in Doubting Castle’. The two got to their feet, unlocked the cell irons, and set out again along the King’s Highway.
What might we receive from this scene? When doubt and despair come upon us, I am reminded that they need not overwhelm us. In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and by our baptism into him, we have seen our destiny, we carry with us the key that opens the way to life, free and full. That key is a symbol of the promise God has made to us in Jesus. Using that key allows us to continue along the way of life.
‘Living into the Promise’ is what we will consider as we begin this week of grace.
If you are in the area, we warmly welcome you to join us. There is ample free parking along the streets around the church and in a public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street. During the service there is a nursery for infants, and a programme for children.
What could be more appropriate than to begin the week of St. Andrew’s Day (November 30) in God’s praise at St. Andrew’s!