I finished reading John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress" tonight. It's one of the required books for my class on the English Puritans at Reformed Theological Seminary.
If you have not read it, I would highly recommend at least skimming the book.
The book is an allegory of the Christian experience...of going through this life to Heaven. It's likely that Bunyan came up with the idea for the book while imprisoned, then published an initial version in 1678. Of all of the writings of the English Puritans, "The Pilgrim's Progress" is the most well known.
There are two parts to the book. Part One tells the story of Christian, Part Two tells the story of his wife Christiana and their children as they journey from their home in the "City of Destruction" to God's "Celestial City".
For me, the book is a helpful reminder that I (like all Christians) am on a spiritual pilgrimage...I will encounter various trials and difficulty and places of rest as I follow Him.
Bunyan's main characters, Christian and Christiana, found it helpful to have others join them on their pilgrim journey. Christian found assistance from individuals named: Evangelist, Interpreter and Hopeful. Christiana, found help from people named: Mercy, Great-Heart, Gaius, and Valiant-for-Truth.
(As an aside, as I read about Mr. Great Heart in Book Two, the great model of a Puritan pastor, I was reminded about some biographies that I've read about Teddy Roosevelt. When he was a child, he and his siblings would call their father by the nickname: "Great Heart"...as they had read "Pilgrim's Progress" and felt that he personified the name. What a great nickname to be given by one's kids.)
As I read "Pilgrim's Progress", I thought too about the monthly worship gathering that I've been hosting through a new group called the "Anglican Fellowship of Cincinnati". I thought of how one of our primary roles is to serve as encouragers (like Great Heart, and Mercy and Hopeful); to encourage one another along the "pilgrim way" of Christian discipleship as people take the journey from their own "City of Destruction" to God's "Celestial City". For me, that's quite an encouraging thing to think about.
I'll post more about our monthly worship meetings at: http://www.cincyanglican.org/
I'm hoping to have the next worship gathering planned soon.
Blessings to you in your pilgrimage,