I am a stranger on the earth; hide not thy will from me. It is an old belief and it is a good belief, that our lives are a pilgrim's progress. We are pilgrims on the earth and strangers, we come from afar and we are going far. The journey of our lives goes from the loving breast of our mothers on earth, to the arms of God in heaven. Everything on earth changes: we have no abiding city here.
It is Gods will that we should part with what is dearest on earth. We ourselves change in many respects. We are not what we once were and we shall not remain what we are now. The face that once had the early dew of the morning gets its wrinkles. The eyes speak of sadness. The hair turns gray or we lose it. Ah, indeed we only pass through the earth, we only pass through life.
I once saw a very beautiful picture; it was a landscape at evening. Through the landscape a road leads to a high mountain, far, far away. On the top of that mountain is a city where on the setting sun casts a glory. On the road walks a pilgrim, he has been walking for a good long while already and he is very tired. And now he meets a woman or a figure in black. That angel of God has been placed there to encourage the pilgrims and to answer their questions. And the pilgrim asks her. "Does the road go uphill all the way?" And the answer is. "Yes, to the very end." And he asks again. "And will the journey take all day long?" And the answer is. "From morn till night my friend."
Have not we all strife on earth?
And when each of us goes back to our daily concerns and the daily duties. Let us not forget that things are not what they seem. That God, by the events of daily life teaches us all higher lessons. That our lives are a pilgrim's progress. That we are strangers on the earth; but that we have a God who preserves strangers. And that we are all brothers and sisters.
Vincent Van Gogh/Adrian Alexis.
This is a synoptic rendering constituting a general view of the whole sermon, inspired by the letters of Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo, given by me Easter Sunday 1996.