Bishop John Roundhill is preparing for a biblical-worthy Holy Week walk, covering nearly 175 km in seven days with a fitting shepherd’s crook in hand, as he strides from church to church across our Southern Region.
This will be Bishop John’s second ‘Walking the Walk’ Holy Week pilgrimage, following his 2019 journey, with last year’s plans abandoned due to COVID-19 and the associated need to keep the community safe.
Bishop John said he welcomes people to join him on his walk, for as little or as much as they like, and to share with him what insights they have learnt as we slowly begin to emerge from the coronavirus’ worst with the vaccination rollout.
“As we come out of what is hopefully the worst of COVID-19 locally, I think many of us have had time to consider some of the big questions of life and I am keen to hear from people,” Bishop John said.
“Jesus’ ministry was at a walking pace. I think we get to talk better when we walk together.
“And, it’s the perfect way for us to explore the Archbishop’s 2021 ‘Nurturing Relationships’ Diocesan theme together.”
This year’s pilgrimage will reverse the route taken in 2019, with Bishop John and fellow walkers commencing at St John’s at Burleigh Heads on Palm Sunday (28 March), following a morning Holy Communion service at 9 o’clock, and ending at St Bartholomew’s in Mt Gravatt on Holy Saturday (3 April).
Bishop John said he has fond memories of the people he met and the conversations he shared on his 2019 journey, which was undertaken in typically unpredictable sub-tropical weather.
“When I was walking on the Gold Coast and it stated to rain, I expected my fellow pilgrims to slip away, but instead we all donned raincoats and simply carried on – it was immense fun,” he said.
Pilgrimages are an ancient Christian tradition and important to our collective identity, with early church theologian and ascetic Origen of Alexandria one of the first to comprehend and impart the concept of the Church as a ‘pilgrim people’.
The first Christian pilgrimages were made in early times to sites connected with Jesus’ life, especially to the sites of his crucifixion and resurrection, and so Holy Week is a fitting period to take time out for this spiritual practice.
In encouraging community members to join him on the walk or to pray for him and his fellow pilgrims, Bishop John said that he also invites people to reflect on the journeys Jesus of Nazareth undertook and on what we have to be grateful for.
“Holy Week is one of the most special times for Christians,” he said.
“The week remembers events from Jesus’ life 2,000 years ago and there is a fair bit of journey and travel in those stories.
Walking the Walk – we can only walk together
“Some of the days will involve long walks and as I am now walking with a diagnosis of arthritis in my knees, I have a much greater appreciation of how fortunate I am to be able to do this and a much greater awareness of how hard simple things like walking can be for some people.”
To find out more about Bishop John Roundhill’s planned route so you know where to be and by when to join him (or to welcome him and fellow pilgrims upon arrival at your parish), you can read about ‘Walking the Walk 2021’ on his blog.