‘Pilgrim People’ explores faith journey in Scripture and life

Little Rock Scripture Study recently debuted the scriptural commentary “Pilgrim People,” which is the first for author Cliff Yeary.
“A constant theme in Scripture is the call to leave the comfort of our homes, or sometimes the pain, and wander in search of God,” said Yeary, who is an associate director for LRSS. “Our journey is the face of faith. This study is a pilgrimage for people to make even though they never leave their homes.”
The commentary is part of a five-week Scripture study that also includes a study guide, and audio and video lectures. It focuses on the pilgrim tradition of a call to faith.
Yeary knows what it’s like to follow a journey of faith. He picked up his family from Idaho in 2002 and made the trek to Arkansas to develop study materials for LRSS.
Through his work, he’s written study guides and articles but never a book of commentary.
“I always wanted to be a writer. I spent 15 years or more writing a novel that never went anywhere,” he said. “Through writing, I can express myself and the faith I’ve been given.”
It is natural for him to write. One of the reasons he got to know his wife, Liz, was their shared love of reading. The couple instilled that love in their children as well.
As a former English teacher to troubled youth in rural Idaho, Yeary knows how the written word can impact those struggling through life.
That struggle is part of the theme in “Pilgrim People.” The journey takes humanity into exile.
“One of the most powerful journeys is the one of exile. For the Jewish people, it crystallized their Jewish identity. They became much more devoted followers of our Lord and the Law of Moses,” he said.
The idea for the book came while reading Bishop Anthony B. Taylor’s letter on immigration in 2008, where the theme of wanderers responding to God’s call struck Yeary.
When he suggested the theme to director Cackie Upchurch, being the writer was not his goal.
“She told me to run with it,” Yeary said. “A bit of panic materialized when she said, ‘Let’s do it.’ I realized how much research was involved and that I would be the author.”
Fortunately for Yeary, he taught a diaconate formation class on the Pentateuch, which is rich in his chosen theme of pilgrimage. The process took him about eight months to complete.
“The four chapters in the book touch base with the core of the pilgrimage tradition of call to faith. For every one Scripture reference, there are four or 10 others that you could use as well,” he said.
One of the commentary’s unique aspects is that it covers both the Old and New Testaments. It also invites readers to share in the pilgrimage of faith on their own.
“Most commentaries avoid making personal connections, but this is a study on pilgrimage and God’s call,” he said. “I deliberately raised questions with readers, so they can be drawn into the saga on a personal level.”
The thematic study provides an overview of some major sections of the Bible, including the call of Abraham and Sarah, the entry into the Promised Land and the fall of Jerusalem.
“The biggest, single hope that I have,” Yeary said, “is that people can connect their own journeys and hear the voice of God calling them in their own lives.”
People have responded well to the study in the two months since it was released. More than 65 parishes have already completed or plan to start it soon. “Pilgrim People” is available by calling (501) 664-6102 or visiting www.littlerockscripture.org.

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