A Dangerous Business!

This article was first published in the Armagh Diocesan Magazine “The Ambassador”.

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off too.”
J.R.R.Tolkien: Lord of the Rings. The Fellowship of the Ring.

In the normal run of events this issue of “The Ambassador” would contain details of Easter Vestry meetings and most likely also details of end of term events like sales, coffee evenings etc. This year as I write I have no idea how and when our pre summer events will take place.

In March each year we remember how St Patrick brought Christianity to ireland. As this escaped slave set sail for our shores he had no idea what sort of reception he would receive, yet he sailed anyway. Ever since people have set off into the unknown, explorers, missionaries, refugees, job seekers. We often find ourselves facing the unknown in life, so how can we find the courage to take the next step when we have no idea where that step will take us?

In his masterpiece “The Lord of the Rings”, Tolken has four friends about to set off on a dangerous journey. Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin must go, and the fact that they are a company of friends gives them the courage they need. A journey with friends is much more pleasant than a journey alone. So when we have a difficult and uncertain path to travel it is best to find friends to travel with.

The four friends in “The Lord of the Rings” did not only have each other, they also had a destination where they would find a safe haven with a powerful protector. When St Patrick set sail for Ireland he knew that the road ahead was dangerous but he also know that in Ireland he would be under the protection of a powerful God. His courage came from his faith.

As we face our uncertain future we can find courage in travelling with companions. In the Gospel Story Jesus found the disciples who travelled with him. In the Acts of the Apostles Paul travelled with companions who supported him on a dangerous road and helped him cope with fierce opposition. The church is meant to be a fellowship of travellers, taking life’s journey together. If each of us return to church with that understanding perhaps our “new normal” will be a wonderful thing.

Travelling with a fellowship of believers is great, but we also need to remember that we are on our way to a wonderful destination, a meeting with a mighty protector, a destination where we can find peace and safety.
Knowing who we are travelling with, and our destination, is key to finding the courage to take that momentous first step into an exciting future.

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