RSS

Category Archives: Maine

Unto the Hills

My own personal “thin place” in northern Maine…

(an online sermon for July 12, 2020, based on Psalm 121)

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”

The Celtic tradition has a wonderful phrase for those unique places in our lives that have a great spiritual attraction and meaning for our lives – they refer to them as “thin places,” those places where this world and heaven seem to meet. Thin places, it is said “are ports in the storms of life, where …pilgrims can move closer to God …where one leaves that which is familiar and journeys into the divine presence.”  Call it a “retreat,” a sanctuary, or call it holy ground, but I suspect we all know of special places where a sense of God’s presence and strength and love are palpable; as though you could literally reach out and touch the hand of the Lord!

Well, friends, what you’re looking at here today… for me it’s most definitely my “thin place.”

And not just the lake, mind you, but also and including all the hills and valleys and green forests that extend from here for miles in every direction. Friends, I can’t even begin to express to you just how influential this place has been and continues to be in my own spiritual grown. There’s a hill in back of the camp that I used to climb when I was young which led to this hayfield that overlooked miles and miles of Maine woodlands; I spent a good many summer afternoons up there, soaking in the sun with all of nature around me, sometimes playing guitar and singing (albeit rather badly!), learning how to pray and making some real discoveries about my faith and my life. In fact, this was the place where a great many seeds for my own call to ministry were sown; when I was on that hill, I really did feel that God was there with me.

Like the song says, I stood “in awesome wonder” at God’s creation, and as far as I was concerned it was about the closest thing to heaven that I had ever seen. And I remember thinking about how great it would be to actually live out there, to dwell with God out in the wilderness!  Hey, sometimes I still feel that way!

Of course, as a grown up who’s growing older by the year, I’m admittedly a bit more hesitant!  Truth is, these days I gaze out at such places and wonder if anybody actually lives out there, and if I did, if I’d have all the amenities we’d need?  And I’d think about how isolated a place like that would be, and what we’d do if there was an emergency; in the dead of winter, could an ambulance get to us before it was too late?  For that matter, how would we get to the store for supplies?  And let’s not even talk about bear, coyote and other assorted animals? Say what you will, it could well be dangerous to live out there in the wilderness – I might look out “unto the hills,” but who would be there to help us?

Oh, yeah …my help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

You know, after a fashion, that’s really what this particular psalm is all about.  There’s actually a very interesting question of biblical translation and scholarship regarding the 121st Psalm: you may have noticed that the words with which I began this sermon (the first verse of Psalm 121) were different than those from the scripture reading.  That’s because between the King James Version (the familiar words with which I began the sermon) and the more modern translations (including the New Revised Standard Version we read here), there is a difference in punctuation and syntax that shifts its meaning a bit.

In the King James Version, that first verse is translated as one sentence:  “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help,” which suggests that the beautiful hills become the source of our inspiration, “the hills of God,” that “thin” place where the Lord, who made heaven and earth dwells.  Modern scholars, however, translate this as two sentences – “I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come?”  In other words, it’s a question, and in fact, a question of concern.  You see, people of biblical times recognized that the “hills,” specifically, the hills surrounding Jerusalem, were a very dangerous place.  The road between Jericho and Jerusalem, for instance, were (and still are) lined with limestone cliffs pocked with caves in which robbers would hide before swooping down to attack travelers – needless to say, a journey through those hills was not to be taken lightly!

So, according to these scholars, what you have here is the picture of the traveler looking at all the hills before him on the journey and wondering where he’ll find help on the way – and the answer is, “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”  Now, I still love the older translation of this verse, and I’ll always see the hills as an inspiration, but I suspect that both interpretations here have some truth to them. In other words, there’s both beauty and danger to be found in the hills – and God is with us in the midst of both.

This is all borne out in the way that this psalm, which might be called a “psalm of assurance, unfolds.  Incidentally, you’ll notice that in scripture, this psalm and several others is also referred to as “a song of ascents,” or a “song of degrees,” as the older translations put it.  Historians believe that this psalm might well have been a hiking song, sung by travelers as they climbed those hills on their journey toward the feasts at Jerusalem!  This song is all about how God will be their strength and protector along the way!

For instance…

“He will not let your foot be moved” – God will be there to keep you from stumbling on the loose rocks, lest you fall and sprain an ankle.

“The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night” – you won’t burn in the relentless heat of the desert sun, and neither will you suffer in cold and damp of the night.

“The LORD will keep you from all evil” – he will see you through any and all temptation and discouragement and danger along the way.

“He will keep your life” – yes, just as the Lord created life, making the heavens and the earth and also you and me, so the Lord will also keep us and protect us!  And he will not sleep on that watch – the one who keeps all of Israel will extend that same care even to you and me, all along every part of journey.

And the beauty part is that whether that journey is “unto the hills,” or in and through the chaotic and often confusing obstacle course we call life, or in that larger journey that each one of us makes from earthly life to life eternal, God shows that same incredible concern for our well-being.  You know, one of the things that has always drawn me to the Psalms has always been this incredible imagery of nature – mountains and eagles and so on – but also that it always points us to a God who is relentless in protecting us, even and especially when we aren’t noticing.

Christian psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck has written, “When I put together the times I just missed being hit by cars while on foot, on a bicycle, or driving; or times when I was driving a car and almost struck pedestrians or barely missed bike riders in the dark; or times when I jammed on the brakes, coming to a stop no more than an inch or two from a vehicle; or times when I narrowly missed skiing into trees or almost fell out of windows; or times when a swinging golf club brushed through my hair – I asked myself: ‘What is this? Do I lived a charmed existence?’”  No, says Peck. “T’was grace that brought me safe thus far.” It wasn’t luck or fate, or instinct or wits; it was the unseen presence of the infinitely loving God who was his maker and ever continues to be his keeper.

And it’s also love, friends; for what else could it be that we’ve gotten this far?  I’ve got to be honest here; as I read that wonderful quote from Scott Peck this week, I found myself thinking, well, that’s great, but what about the times that we have stumbled?  I for one can name you a whole lot of times in my own life (several in 2020 alone!) when it seemed as though that swinging golf club somehow managed to hit me square upside the head!  As much as the hills fill us awe and anticipation, the fact is we usually face the dangers there head on; and yes, sometimes along the way we get hurt and wounded, “smote” by the sun and moon and the utter difficulties and tragedies of life and living.

And then I realized – the fact that I’m here right now, in this beautiful place talking about the journey — says that I’ve made it through; and have come to the other side of the challenges and dangers that were there on the way.  And most certainly, that I arrived had much less to do with my strength or cleverness than it did the goodness of God’s own heart surrounding me every step along the way.

Let me share a little secret with you this morning, friends: not to shatter any illusions here, but where this is concerned, even we ministers have a hard time figuring it all out!  I know that’s certainly true for me – I struggle sometimes to understand why things happen in life the way they do; why so often the road ahead has to be so incredibly, and frustratingly difficult (!); and why, O Lord, can’t once in a while, things just go a little bit more smoothly?!

I can’t say I’ve gotten any answers to those lamentations; but I can tell you this with great assuredness. Whatever, as the hymn puts it, “the danger, toil and stress” I have faced; whatever struggles I’ve ever had on the way to keep the faith and just keep going; whatever “adventure” there has been for me on the journey – be it good, bad, or just plain old HARD – I only made it because God took that journey along with me.

And I dare say the same could be said of each one of us here.

Truly, with each new day and every new journey of life, as we lift up our eyes unto the hills– we know from whence our help will come.  And come what may, we can walk on with confidence and even joy, because we know that “the LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”

Thanks be to the God of the Hills who is the God of our lives!

AMEN and AMEN!

c. 2020  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 31, 2020 in Faith, Maine, Old Testament, Psalms, Sermon

 

Tags: ,

A Cup of Cold Water

(a sermon for June 27, 2020, the 4th Sunday After Pentecost, based on Matthew 10:40-42)

Her name was Peggy Grenier, and she was an elderly widow who lived in a log cabin up the road from us on the lake, and at the end of a wooded pathway; and for a period of time when I was very young, she was one of my very best friends.  Actually, Peggy was best friends with just about every one of the little kids who spent their summers on the lake, and as I think about it now, it’s a wonder she had a moment to herself, given all the children who used to come to visit her! 

We all loved to “go see Peggy,” and this was because by all indications, she loved to see us!  No matter what she was doing or how busy she was, the moment we turned up at her door, she’d stop everything to visit with us.  We’d tell Peggy all of our long, drawn-out stories, she’d laugh heartily at all our “little kid jokes,” and over cookies and cold glasses of lemonade we’d have these deep discussions about the great issues of our lives – school and friends and how much we hated social studies – but the thing was that all of this truly seemed to matter to Peggy!

What I remember the most about Peggy is that she really did listen to us, and what’s more, she talked to us like we were grown-ups, which at the age of six is quite a thing indeed!  I remember our parents saying to us, “Now, don’t you go up there and bother Peggy every day; she doesn’t need you kids hanging around all the time,” but we never really understood that because you see, Peggy never acted like we were a bother1 She always made us feel welcome, and all these years later I still remember how great that feeling was. And even though she’s long since passed on, other people live there now, and the log cabin itself has been completely remodeled, as far as I’m concerned, that place will always be “Peggy’s Camp.”

To feel welcomed – to be received, as scripture often translates it – is one of life’s great blessings, isn’t it?  I’m sure we can all name moments in which a simple act of hospitality made all the difference: someone inviting us to sit at their table and share a meal; inviting us to spend a holiday with them where otherwise we would have been alone; or has been the case for me recently, stopping by the house to bring a flower or a goodie bag or a simply a word of comfort.  It’s part and parcel of being a good neighbor, yes, and on a deeper level, it’s the act of affirming the great value of that person through a not-so-random act of kindness; but even more than this, spiritually speaking, it is seeing that person through the eyes of God.  It truly is as our reading today describes it, like giving that someone “a cup of cold water” on a hot and muggy day; it’s just that refreshing and life giving…

…and, might I add… an essential part of the Christian life; it is the manner of welcome to which you and I are called as disciples of Jesus Christ. As Jesus himself said it in our text for this morning, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and who every welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”

It is worth noting here that these words of Jesus come right on the heels of those other rather disconcerting words from our text for last Sunday, all about how he’d come not “to bring peace but a sword,” about families being set against one another, and about losing one’s life to save it (and all of that, by the way, coming on the heels of Jesus’ dire warnings to the disciples about the inevitability of conflict and persecution). But then, just when any reasonable person might have run the other way, Jesus reminds the disciples of the great importance of the task before them; essentially saying that whenever someone receives them –  that is, whenever someone welcomes them into their homes, and into their “circle of trust” and admiration – they will be receiving Christ himself! Just as prophets and righteous believers are received on the basis of who they are, Jesus says, anyone who gives you even a cup of cold water because you’re my disciple is also welcoming me!  And when they are welcoming me, Jesus goes on to say, they are welcoming the God who sent me.

In these three short verses from Matthew’s gospel, Jesus reminds us of the vital role that his disciples will play in the building up of the Kingdom of God; understanding, of course, that this extends not only to the original twelve but to all who would seek to follow Christ, and that includes you and me.  As disciples, you see, you and I are in the truest sense ambassadors of Christ in the places where we dwell, emissaries of his kingdom.  So anyone who welcomes us into their circle is also welcoming Jesus; and what that means is that anything and everything we do as “guests” will reflect on the one we represent:  our demeanor around those who welcome us matters, as does our sense of graciousness for what we receive, and our ability to speak, act and respond with love befitting the example of our Lord.

Now, you might think that this is an obvious point (in fact, I hope so; I mean, what’s not to understand about what amounts to “loving one another?”), but in truth of fact, there are a great many people, and many “Christians” among them whose lives never quite approach that example; the kind of folks who by their behaviors give too much credence to those rumors about Christians being holier-than-thou, hyper-critical hypocrites!   My point here is that it’s important for you and I to remember that for better or worse, when every day we head out into the world we are carrying our faith along with us; and there are countless occasions throughout the week when what we say, what we do, the choices we make, the attitudes we show toward others – how we live (!) – cannot help but proclaim something about that faith, either positively or negatively.

Which message comes forth… well, that in large part is up to us. 

It actually puts me in mind of one of my favorite quotes from Frederick Buechner,  a passage from his book, Wishful Thinking.  “Who knows,” he wrote, “how the awareness of God’s love first hits people.  Every person has his own tale to tell, including the person who wouldn’t believe in God if you paid him.  Some moment happens in your life that you say Yes to right up to the roots of your hair, that makes it worth having been born just to have happen… how about the person you know who as far as you can possibly tell has never had such a moment… maybe for that person the moment that has to happen is you.”  The bottom line, friends, is that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are his representatives.  We are in essence his heart, his hands, his feet, his arms of compassion; in receiving us, you see, the people we encounter can and do discover the love of Jesus Christ; that is both the word of encouragement and the word of challenge that our Lord offered to his disciples as they went out into a harsh and uncertain world.  “This is a large work I’ve called you into,” Jesus tells them in The Message version of this text, “but don’t be overwhelmed by it… the smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.”

In other words, the “effectiveness,” if you will, of true discipleship is not to be measured by the greatness of what is accomplished, but in all the small things that are done greatly.  Just as something as simple as a card, or a call, or a visit shows us how much we’re loved and appreciated, when you and I offer up, as Jesus puts it, “even a cup of cold water to these little ones in the name of a disciple,” not only serves as an affirmation of faith and love and care to that one who was thirsty, it also shows forth the great and giving love of Jesus Christ and of the God who sent him.  And understand, when Jesus refers to “these little ones,” he’s not talking necessarily about children, but rather, he’s talking about anyone and everyone who has ever needed to be recognized and affirmed and valued and loved… or who simply need a drink of water. 

The point is that these are the ones to whom we are called to bring our faith and our love. and the best way we can reveal the reign of Christ in the world is for them to see Christ in us through merciful acts of love and kindness and grace that makes a difference in peoples’ lives. This, I believe, is what makes you and I authentically Christian, and it’s what makes us the church… yes, what makes us the church no matter where and how we meet.

Once again, it all seems so simple, so basic to the mission we share as believers; and yet I would dare say that in these days when people and groups have become so sharply and bitterly divided over so many issues – not to mention quite literally having to have our faces be covered and be physically distant from one another – that this call to bring forth true love and mercy represents one of the greatest challenges that the church faces in this day and age. 

For instance, I don’t know about you, but these days I’m something finding it very difficult to be able to express what I want to express while wearing a facemask!  This whole pandemic has made me realize just how much of ourselves we convey to others simply by the look on our face: the way we smile, or frown, or grimace, or share the abundance of our displeasure… or for that matter, our compassion.  I think I’ve shared with you the story of how I was in our local Hannaford the other day and another woman came barreling around a crowded corner and fairly well careened into my shopping cart.  It wasn’t a big deal – no harm done at all – but what was interesting was that because we were masked we literally stared at each other’s eyes for the longest moment because neither one of us could tell how the other was going to react to this little accident.  Was there going to be anger and heated words exchanged, or would we just laugh it off?  Based on just the masks we were wearing, there was no way to tell!  Frankly, it wasn’t until I made a stupid joke – in my official downeast dialect, mister man, which I’m sure comes as no surprise to you folks (!) – that she could tell I wasn’t upset and she could breathe a sigh of relief… and we both had a good laugh as a result.

It was, in its own unique way, a cup of cold water… and whether or not that woman knew it, a little bit of God was revealed.  And that was reward indeed.

Karen Mains has said it well: “When we give, having put away our pride, then Christ sanctifies the simple gift.  He makes it holy, useful.”  Friends, it may well seem to us like what we give is small and perhaps even insignificant in the wider scheme of things, to those who receive what we have to give it is anything but; and it’s certainly not insignificant to the Lord.  A cup of cold water matters; for what greater reward can there be than a not so random act of kindness resulting in someone encountering God, perhaps for the very first time?

There’s a lot of very thirsty people out there, friends… and we’ve got plenty of water.  

Thanks be to God.

AMEN and AMEN!

© 2020  Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.

 

Tags:

Down from the Mountain

(a sermon for February 23, 2020, the Last Sunday after Epiphany andTransfiguration Sunday, based on Matthew 17:1-9)

One summer several years ago when our children were young, our family did some camping at Mount Blue State Park, located in the beautiful western mountains of Maine; and as part of that experience, the kids and I decided one morning that we would actually climb Mount Blue itself.  On paper, that didn’t seem like a hard thing; the park brochure said that the trail we were going to take was a relatively easy one, and what’s more, you could drive right up to the base of the mountain, park your car and then you only had to walk a mile and a half-long trail to reach the summit; I mean, what could be simpler?  Of course, what they don’t tell you is that’s a mile and a half straight up! 

So I’ll admit, it was an arduous climb for the children and especially for the father(!), and honestly, we spent as much time sitting down to rest as we did actually walking (it’s no coincidence that the gift shops in those parts sell t-shirts, key chains and such that proclaim, “I survived Mount Blue!”)!  Despite the huffing and puffing, however, we did make it to the top, and it was well worth the climb.  The view was amazing, a literal panorama of God’s glory revealed in the beauty of creation, and we pretty much spent the rest of the day just drinking it all in. 

And I have to say, I’m feeling pretty good about what we’d accomplished, even getting a little cocky about it; I remember actually saying to my kids, “You know, this wasn’t easy, but in the eternal struggle of man versus wilderness, we triumphed!” But then I made my real mistake, by adding these words: “…and getting back down is going to be a piece of cake!”

Definitely a mistake!  The fact is, heading back I made the interesting discovery that I was tired, my legs were stiff and hurting, my arthritic knees were starting to kill, and every single step I made walking down the mountain trail felt like it might well be my last!  And adding insult to injury was the fact that Jake (who was, as I recall, 14 at the time) and Zach (who was seven!) fairly well ran down the trail, leaving Sarah and I to slowly, painfully hobble our way down (and truth be told, I think Sarah – my sweet little girl (!) – held back because she felt sorry for me!).  At one point we’re about three quarters of the way down, and we run into some hikers on their way up the trail, and one of them says to me, “There’s two kids down there – a big one and a little one – draped over the hood of a car.  Do they belong to you?”  And I said, “Yesss… Are they alright?”  “Oh, yeah,” he said back, “They’re just wondering if you’re going to make it back anytime soon!”

So much for the triumph of the mountaineer!  Needless to say, we did make it down… eventually; tired and sore, but otherwise none the worse for wear.  It’d been a good time and a great memory for the kids and me, but I did learn an important lesson:  that oftentimes, the hardest part of climbing a mountain is coming back down; and eventually, you always have to come down from the mountain!

It’s a lesson I’ve thought about a great deal as I’ve returned this week to this morning’s reading from Matthew, the story of how Jesus led three of the disciples “up a high mountain, by themselves,” where Jesus was “transfigured before them,” his face shining “like the sun, and his clothes [becoming] dazzling white.”  Actually, it makes sense that the setting for this particular story is a mountaintop, because throughout scripture mountains always hold a place of great significance; basically, if anyone from the Bible goes up a mountain, you know something important is going to happen.  It was on a mountain, for example, where Moses was confronted by the burning bush, and later where he received the Ten Commandments.  The temple was built in Jerusalem on Mount Zion; one of Jesus’ most powerful teachings is now commonly referred to as the “sermon on the mount;” and even his crucifixion took place on that “hill, far away,” Golgotha, “the place of the skull,” otherwise known as Mount Calvary.  In the Bible, you see, mountains are always considered to be places of revelation and clarity and wonder; and more often than not, serve to illumine what happens beyond it!  

And so it follows that it’s on the mountaintop where Peter, James and John see Jesus, bathed in brilliant, dazzling light, and with incredible clarity come to recognize just who Jesus is, standing there and in “deep conversation” with Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the prophet. This was form them an experience filled to overflowing with God’s mystery and power, and it’s awesome and terrifying all at the same time.  And it’s not at all surprising that Peter’s first thought is to preserve the moment forever: “It is good for us to be here,” he says, “if you wish, I will make three dwelling here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  

What’s interesting is that in Mark’s version of this story, we’re told that Peter was so stunned by what was happening that “he didn’t know what to say,” (9:6) and he just sort of blurted this out without thinking; but I’ve always kind of felt like it was a awe-inspired gesture on Peter’s part, an effort to try to hang on to the feeling of this “mountaintop experience” as long as possible!  But of course, the thing about mountaintop experiences is that try as we might for it to be otherwise, they aren’t made to last; and the gospels all make it clear that as suddenly as this one began, it was over; and “when they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.” (The Message) It’d been this incredible, fleeting moment of wonder and terror and divine revelation, but now it was gone.

But here’s the thing: though the disciples’ transfiguration “experience” had passed, their journey – in just about every sense of the word – was just beginning. And we know this because of the very next verse in Matthew’s account of all this: that just as soon as it was done, “they were coming down the mountain.”  You see, this is the other thing about mountaintop experiences: eventually you always have to come down from the mountain; and while that’s often the harder part of the experience, it’s also the place where true faith begins.

It’s worth pointing out here is that biblically speaking, the transfiguration story comes essentially at the mid-point of the gospel.  Up to this point in the story, we’ve learned about Jesus’ teaching and healing acts, and his growing ministry, and even after the experience of transfiguration, all that continues for Jesus and his disciples; except now it’s different.  Now it’s off to Jerusalem, with all that that journey implies.  In other words, we’ve had a moment of glory up on the mountain, but now it’s time to come back down to the valley.  It’s time for us to go to the cross. 

Likewise, it’s no coincidence that this is the story that bridges the boundary between the season of Epiphany, in which we revel in the light of Christ coming into the world, and the season of Lent, when we remember how darkness sought to overcome that light.  Moreover, it serves as a reminder to us that in the Christian life, we always stand on the boundary between mountain and valley, light and darkness, radiance and pain.  In faith, as in life, we cannot avoid the darkness and pain; the reality of things is that we can’t stay on the mountain forever but always to come down into the valleys of life to face all the dangers that dwell there. 

There are those, of course, who would succumb to this notion that the Christian life is simply one mountaintop experience after another; and that a belief in Jesus somehow removes you from things like human hurt, personal tragedy and the many injustices of life.  But the truth is that for believer and unbeliever alike, there is trouble in life, and it does rain on the just and unjust.  And anyone who approaches faith with the expectation that all of life will be all sunshine and roses will either drop out at the first sign of trouble, or else find glean on to some bad theology that convinces them that they are somehow personally at fault for every bad thing that happens; and that’s a burden that some people will carry for a lifetime.

It’s one of the great misunderstandings of the Christian faith, in my opinion, that its power is to be measured based purely on “good things” that happen.  The difference between this kind of thinking and true Christian faith is that we already know there are dark valleys, and that the shadow of death lingers over so much of human experience but nonetheless as we come down from the mountain we walk confidently, because we also know we are not going into this valley alone but in the embrace of God, who brings us safely to green pastures and still waters. 

This is true faith, friends; and what we discover in this transfiguration story we’ve shared today is that this faith finds its assurance in Jesus.

It’s there in the final moment of that wondrous experience, when the cloud overshadows the disciples there on the mountain, and as they hear a voice from heaven say, “This is my Son, the Beloved; and with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”  You see, whether they realized or understood it at all, these three slack-jawed, awestruck and fear-ridden disciples had just been given the key to dealing with everything that was to come:  

Listen. Learn. Trust

Listen to what Jesus is saying to you; learn from his teachings; and trust that even now as you’re coming down from the mountain you will be led safely through the dark valleys ahead.

I’m reminded here of something Frederick Buechner wrote some years ago about a time in his life when he’d been filled with despair over his daughter’s ongoing struggle with the eating disorder anorexia.  As you can imagine, this constitutes a nearly impossible situation for any parent, and so it was for Buechner.  In fact, in his book Telling Secrets he tells the story of how one day, driving back to his home in Vermont and sick with worry over his child, was forced to pull over to a highway rest stop so that he might at least compose himself for the remainder of his journey.  And there in the parking lot, Buechner spied a car with a vanity license plate; although, he noted later, this time it really wasn’t a vanity plate.  The plate read simply, in capital letters, “TRUST.”

Buechner saw it as a revelation, and in that precise moment, he said, a great sense of calm swept over his life and he knew he could go on.  Never mind that the vehicle in question was a company car owned by a New England bank trust department officer; it was the word “TRUST” that made the difference:  a simple insight, a little snippet of divine teaching, a vision of what was his all along:  love, strength… and hope.

Every once in a while, you know, we do get a real glimpse of who Jesus is, and what he has to give us:  sometimes it comes in the midst of worship and prayer; other times in the kind of love and encouragement that’s shared between friends; perhaps in the fleeting memory of a particular time or place that stirs our heart just for the thought of it; a singular moment, that mountaintop experience in which we knew we were standing face to face with the Lord. 

This morning’s gospel reminds us to hold on to such things even as we come down from the mountain; for these are the moments that will sustain us as we walk more deeply into life, and as our faith transforms us from those who merely plod along the way into those who walk boldly and in tandem with Jesus Christ; those who understand that even walking through the darkest of valleys, there’s going to be a light leading them forward. 

Beloved, I hope and pray that whether your journey this week finds you climbing up the mountain, or making your way back down, you’ll be carrying that light as your own. 

Thanks be to God!

AMEN and AMEN!

© 2020  Rev. MIchael W. Lowry

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 23, 2020 in Epiphany, Faith, Family Stories, Jesus, Lent, Life, Maine, Sermon

 

Tags: , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: