One of the surprises on our trip to Ireland and Scotland was all of the many old churches with their doors wide open to us. We peeked into cathedrals from Dublin to Edinborough.
We saw the place where Handel practiced the organ and first performed the Messiah, in Dublin. We saw old hulking cathedrals where the pews had been replaced by new modern chairs. We explored dusty naves and lit candles in chapels. We gazed at breathtaking stained glass windows and found our hearts respond to a sense of God’s presence in so many religious spaces.
In one church, in Killarney, we entered the sanctuary at the end of a long day and discovered that they seemed to be waiting for us. They had big signs that invited us in and invited us to say a prayer or light a candle. There was a prayer printed there for people on a pilgrimage and it described how sacred it is just to visit churches.
Peggy and I were so impressed by this intentional hospitality for strangers who happened in the door that we took a few pictures in hopes that we will consider whether we might do something similar in our church when people come through our door for the strolls.
I know many of you travel all over this country and the world. I hope that the churches you visit become a source of God’s grace and wonder, and that you feel the Holy Spirit whenever your journeys become pilgrimages.