Climb that mountain...

Today is a big day. It is the 173rd Anniversary service at church and we have been planning it for a few months. There will be a Gospel Trio to provide music, strawberries, shortcake and ice cream and it will all take place on the church lawn under two large tents. What a great opportunity to share in God's creation and enjoy the summer weather.

Funny that the signature piece that brought my attention to the Trio is called, "I'll meet you on the mountain" so I chose to make that the theme of the worship. This past week I went to the lectionary and the scripture is Genesis 22:1-14 the story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac. Not a pretty piece of scripture for an anniversary service, or is it? What more glory and passion can we take from a father who trusts in God so deeply that he will do the unthinkable. Sacrifice his own son. Is your faith that deep? I likely could honestly say no, but then again I have the witness of the sacrifice of my own son. It was a few years ago when my boy was on the street, struggling with life out west. I had given all could give. I had no money left and he was still in the gutter. In the golden land of plenty, oil country, where if you trip over a rock you have a job. Where you could change jobs as often as you changed your underwear, he was claiming he could not find work. Was he on drugs? I suspected so. After trying an intervention and flying out to "save" him I returned realizing he was his own worst enemy. It was then that I gave my son over to God. I tried to sacrifice him on that mountain I took him up and layed him on the alter and gave him over to God. My heart was breaking and I was in the depths of despair, but God said, "Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me" (v.12) God saved my boy. God brought him back to life, on the mountain that day. But I had to trust enough to take him there. It was my trust in God that saved the boys life.

I pulled a book off my shelf this week and tossed it on the table thinking I would get around to reading it. I had pulled it from a rack at the thrift store just because it spoke to me. It is called "Into Thin Air". So this morning I looked at it a little closer to begin reading it and it is "a personal account of the Mt. Everest Disaster". How fitting on this mountain top Sunday. How fitting that God has put this in my hands on the day I am taking the people to the mountaintop to face their own fear of God and asking themselves, "how much do I trust?" How fitting that I am experiencing my own mountaintop experience.

Do I trust God? You bet I do. I have had enough mountaintop experiences to know that God will always save us, but it is only in the moment of fully trusting do we see God's face and hear God's voice. As long as we hold on at all God may remain silent and let us kill our only son.

Trust, my friends, fully trust in God!


Jesus is always ahead of us waiting...

Matthew 28:7 from Eugene Peterson's The Message: "Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, 'He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galiee. You will see him there' That's the message."

I love how Eugene Peterson captures the gospel in such a way that it is present and alive. "That's the message." Jesus is always slightly ahead of us and waiting for us to arrive, but in our faith we have to trust that. Most recently I was facing challenges and decisions that were difficult. I was scared and I was confused and I really wanted to stay where it was safe and, although I was not happy, I was safe in my despair, so that despair was my comfort. I was not ready to face the unknown. However, I prayerfully considered everything took the leap and trusted God to carry me through. When I arrived, Jesus was already there. The risen Christ, smiling reminding me that in order to live sometimes something must die!

Resurrection. Transitions and neutral zones are difficult but it is through these times that a person grows and finds the strength of God within. Often early church teachings lead us to understand that God is "somewhere out there" like over the rainbow. The early Christians had no understanding beyond the sky above their heads. They were steeped in Hebrew Scripture with Genesis' account of creation and, knowing no better, it was within their scope to believe God lived above the firmament or the dome, beyond the stars. But how does that work for our scientific mind today? We are witness to space travel and pictures of earth from beyond.

The mystery of God is all around us. As we gather this mystery close to our heart and listen quietly we hear the voice of God within guiding us and caring for our very soul. I have heard it said, and I cannot find the quote to credit it, but I have heard it said that there was a man who said:

"I have searched the universe over and I am witness to say there is no God." A wise response came back, "I agree, like this violin, I have tore it apart and can attest there is no music."

Come and be witness to the mystery. Do not ask questions, just simply be, trust and share in the beauty and wonder of God, as Jesus saw it and as Jesus died for it ... You to can be resurrected from a painful life, if you simply take the first step!