Saturday, March 3, 2018

Journey to Jerusalem: Climbing the Mountain

Journey to Jerusalem: Climbing the Mountain

Exodus 19:16-25
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain.

Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to the Lord to look; otherwise many of them will perish. Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves or the Lord will break out against them.” Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.’” The Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the Lord; otherwise he will break out against them.”

So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Mountains have always had special meaning to me.
As a little boy, traveling over the mountains
meant a visit to Grandparents
in Danville, Kentucky or Kingsport, Tennessee
either way required going across the mountains.

Then in high school,
there were those powerful Spirit-filled
times in Montreat, North Carolina.
Then in college and beyond,
hiking in those same Blue Ridge Mountains.

I remember one time
crossing the dam in Montreat at Lake Susan;
my family and I bumped into
Dr. Cliff McLeod, the pastor who had baptized me.
Cliff asked us why were visiting...
then he says,
"You know Montreat is the first stop on the way to heaven!"

Indeed, Lord, many of us feel that way.
Even Billy Graham, one of your faithful servants,
now seated at your Heavenly Banquet,
lived most of his days in the Montreat Mountains.

In Celtic Christianity, these are known as "Thin Places"--
places were the distance between
heaven and earth, sacred and ordinary, divine and human
are thin.

Mount Sinai was certainly a "Thin Place."
Your glory rested on the mountain like a cloud of smoke and fog.
Your voice thundered.
Your presence was undeniable.

On our Lenten Journey to Jerusalem
we are climbing another mountain
one that lead up to another Thin Place:
to Jerusalem,
to Mount Zion,
to the Mount of Olives,
to Calvary.
Your presence, Lord,
was clear in those places too--
the footsteps, healing touches, bodily presence of Jesus.
the voice of love, the voice of teaching, the voice of challenge, the voice of Jesus.
the cross of Christ, the Lamb of Sacrifice, the blood of glory.

This year, Lord,
thin the hardness of our hearts
that the distance be thin
between your loving presence
and our grateful obedience.
In the name of the one
who IS the Thin Place,
Jesus Christ. Amen.

Track and share your miles by clicking here.

At Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles from Columbia, SC to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc.

You are invited to track and send your miles to our church office, we will post those miles online and on banners in the sanctuary and in our fellowship building.  Together we will make our journey to Jerusalem!

I challenge you:

  1. How many miles is it from your community to Jerusalem?
  2. Invite others to make the journey with you.
  3. And pray together along the way.
  4. Warning: the journey will be painful; there will be suffering; we will witness betrayal, denial, and death.  And yet, resurrection awaits us!
  5. See you in Jerusalem at the empty tomb on Easter morning!

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