Saturday, June 03, 2006

What's in a name? Why this blog is called "The Palmers' Pilgrimage"

Did you know that the origin of the surname “Palmer” dates back to the Middle Ages in England? It refers to a religious pilgrim, someone who goes on pilgrimage to a holy place, such as the city of Jerusalem. Medieval Christian pilgrims who went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem were given a palm branch as they entered the city, hearkening back to Jesus triumphal entry (see John 12: 12-13). They were then called "palmers" in reference to their palm branch. In the late 14th Century, the great poet Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340 – 1400) referred to these “palmers” in the opening lines of the Canterbury Tales:
[In the Spring months, as nature comes alive…]
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage.
And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,
To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.
(from the General Prologue, lines 12-14)

I love the associations between palmers and pilgrims, because, of course, the Christian life of faith is commonly referred to as a pilgrimage, a journey through this world to our heavenly home. John Bunyan’s book Pilgrim’s Progress, of course, is the classic example. There are a number of passages in Scripture from which this concept of God’s people as pilgrims comes – we are strangers and exiles on this earth, sojourners who are on the way to our true homeland, for which we eagerly long:

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11, KJV)

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. (1 Peter 1:17, ESV)

By faith he (Abraham) went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, …for he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Hebrews 11: 9-10, ESV)

These all died in faith, …having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11: 13-16, ESV)


These texts have been very significant to me throughout my adult life. My longing is and has been to live my life “for the joy set before me,” with my eyes fixed on Jesus and my eternal home, as a pilgrim and sojourner on this earth. Hence the name of this blog. I hope it serves as an ongoing reminder and inspiration to me and others, to live every day and to do everything in eager anticipation of the better country, the city that has foundations.

2 comments:

Shahid said...

Nice blog Haji Saheb! Yes, Haji, you, 'Palmer' you... =0)

Love you guys!


Shahid and Salmah

Thaine said...

Excellent blog, Dave & Mimi. And congratulations on the arrival of Lily.

I have recently started a blog for our Sunday School class.

Mostly used for prayer requests. It is http//pacesetters-on-line.blogspot.com