Views from the Pews: Archibishop of York on his pilgrimage

The Archbishop with Imogen Lewis-Ogden and Angela Ekers at Sutton on Derwent School.
The Archbishop with Imogen Lewis-Ogden and Angela Ekers at Sutton on Derwent School.

Since the start of Advent on December 1, I have been walking from Cleveland to the East Riding, six days a week. And I’ll keep on walking in North Yorkshire until May 22 – Trinity Sunday.

I believe that’s what God wanted me to do and I don’t regret a step.

So far, we’ve held prayers in 189 churches on the way, visited 73 schools, six further education colleges, seven hospitals, three hospices, five care homes as well as visiting many people at their homes.

And we’ve been fed and watered wonderfully along the way, just like the pilgrims of old who depended on the Christian generosity of others to keep going. We have been given a reet Yorkshire welcome everywhere!

All this has helped me to imagine what it was like to be a bishop in England in medieval times; they would have travelled on foot or on horseback, often accompanied by a group of monks and engaged in telling the amazing Christian story to people for the first time.

Then they would have been taught how to pray and worship in their homes and market places. Later there would be a few makeshift churches, but it would be a while before more substantial buildings were constructed.

One of the oldest, according to a recent discovery, is St Peter and St Paul’s near Stamford Bridge. Part of that church may be 1,100 years old, but that’s hundreds of years later than the first witnesses to God’s love in Jesus Christ.

My pilgrimage through Cleveland and the East Riding has taught me to be more attentive to God moment
by moment and to expect the unexpected.

Although each day’s route has been planned, there are lots of unknowns. The weather for a start!

Throughout all this, I have felt buoyed up, strengthened and encouraged by the presence of God on the road.

Every one of us is engaged on a once in a lifetime journey.There’s no turning back, for the past is the past. And we don’t know exactly how the future is going to pan out.

What we can do is to choose a companion for the journey. It is my deepest hope for you that you will choose Jesus Christ, who promised his friends: “Surely I am with you, to the end of the age.” God bless you.