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Let us climb the Lord’s mountain

by davesandel on November 29th, 2021

Monday, November 29, 2021                         (today’s lectionary)

Let us climb the Lord’s mountain

My friend Sam went to India to seek wisdom from a wise guru. He would have climbed any mountain to find his teacher. I watched Free Solo, a movie about Alex Honnold and his impossible climb up El Capitan in Yosemite, filmed by other outrageous, intrepid climbers with cameras in their hands. A couple in West Virginia overcame their fear of heights, then climbed five hours in their wedding clothes to be married at the top of Seneca Rocks.

And then there’s Edmund Hillary (or George Mallory) as they began their climb to the top of Mt. Everest. Why are you doing this?

“Because it’s there.”

Arriving in Austin after another thousand mile trip, I feel exhilaration, relief, accomplishment, and exhaustion. I have climbed my own mountain, and now it’s great to see the Tomita kiddos again, Miles of the sparkling eyes and Jasper of the now soothed fire ant bites on his leg, as I walked into their home on Sunday evening. Joy in every corner.

The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. Many people shall come and say, “Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.

Who has been wanting to teach you lately? I constantly sort through the “instructions” I get from advertisers, preachers, friends, family, advisers of all kinds. We are all know-it-alls these days, experts at everything. And this makes what we could call learning, but too often recognize as indoctrination, difficult. When someone says “Trust me,” I run the other way. NO!

Climbing God’s highest mountain is different. For one thing, a significant amount of suffering is involved. Have you read Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard? Here’s just a taste:

Much-Afraid looked at the thorn and shrank from it. But she looked at the Shepherd’s face and suddenly said, “Please plant the seed, here in my heart.” His face lit up with a glad smile. “Now you will be able to go with me to the High Places and be a citizen in the Kingdom of my Father.” And he pressed the thorn into her heart. She felt a piercing pain and then, suddenly, a sweetness … for a moment then, “Much-Afraid did not look afraid at all.”

For another thing, as I climb toward him, God does not speak the language of what Walter Brueggemann calls the “empire.” I am accustomed to being persuaded and then abandoned, but God does the opposite. In his own version of silence, God searches me, finds me and offers me compassion, justice and love.

We shall beat our swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. My nation shall not raise its sword against yours, and we shall not train for war any more.

And one more thing: on God’s holy mountain we are shown the miracle of “abundance.” There is more than enough for all of us, now and forever. During Advent we prepare again to receive the Shepherd who frees us from our fear of each other. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and there is plenty for all of us.

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. May peace be within your walls. I will pray for your good.

(Isaiah 2, Psalm 122, Psalm 80, Matthew 8)

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