Loving God’s Creation: Mountain Sunday 9/23/12

This fall our Celebration of Creation began with a celebration of planet earth, and moved on with the creation story to a celebration of Humanity. Last week we celebrated Sky Sunday and this Sunday, we recognize Mountain Sunday. Our second reading is from Peter remembering a mountain that he climbed with Jesus, where they heard the voice of God blessing of Jesus with Elijah and Moses.

2 Peter 1:16-21

September 23 • 2012

Loving God’s Creation: Mountain Sunday

As with the beauty of the sky, the grandeur of mountains is often used as a metaphor for the grandeur and power of the God of Creation. You may remember some mountains that have inspired you. Some of my favorites have been in the Poconos, but I have also seen beautiful mountains in Switzerland, the Rockies, and the White Mountains.  I climbed a mountain called Old Baldy in Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexco. And I often think about sharing a mountain view with a woodchuck up in the Poconos near the Appalachian Trail, looking out over a huge autumn colored valley.

Part of the religious fascination with mountains is related to a common belief that God is above us, in the sky, so that on a mountain we are somehow closer to our Creator God. Moses, Elijah, and Jesus all climb mountains to be closer to God, to pray and to receive wisdom.

Psalm 121 begins “I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come?” Some read the Psalm as looking to the hills for that help, since that is where God is. Others read it as a call for help wherever we are, because of the dangerous, treacherous threat of the hills themselves. Either way, looking to the hills brings a cry for help – and the immediate response, “My help comes from Yahweh, who made heaven and earth.”

We are in a time as a church when people are going through an unusual number of difficulties and trials in our journey through the hills of their lives. At the same time, the church is going through some changes.  We had a couple Sundays with different music and today, we have some drums and music during lunch.  I have received messages from some people saying they are going to leave the church if the music changes, and others from people who are going to leave the church if the music doesn’t change.

Mountains are a symbol of steadfastness and steadiness.  They don’t move much or change quickly.  In this time of a little uncertainty, I hope people can have a little patience as we work things out, and realize that eventually we will find ways to help you not be surprised, and to worship exactly the way you want to.

Luckily, when we think of steadfastness, we have someone beyond ourselves that we count on to really be like a mountain more than we can manage. Psalm 121 assures us that God is our ‘keeper,” God who created all that is, “keeps you and will not slumber,” keeps Israel,” “will keep you from all evil,” “will keep your life,” “will keep your going out and your coming in.”

So when we need help, we pray to the One who created the very hills, the One who is steadfast as Mt. Washington. God our Creator is the ground of our being, the ground under ouf feet, and also the guardian of our hope.

When we face hard times, we might not have anywhere else to turn, but we can always look to the Keeper of our lives, the guardian of our hope, the preserver of our courage.

You see, there is a difference between having and keeping. I have my favorite tie. It’s my possession. But I keep my son. I keep my family.  I keep my church. They are not my possessions. They are my beloved. They are dear to me and I’ll do everything I can to make sure no harm comes to them, because if they suffer, I suffer too.

As God’s creations, as God’s beloved, God keeps us, guards us, holds us. We are immeasurably dear to the Force that formed us, the Power that possesses us, the Creator who created us. If we suffer, it hurts God too.

Some people feel closest to God when things are going well. They feel favored by the divine and may get discouraged when they hit hard times. Others find a greater closeness to God in the most challenging times. When they feel most powerless, they find there is a Power that holds them up when they can’t hold it all together.

We come to realize in those difficult times that we aren’t keeping our own lives. The One who created Heaven and earth keeps our lives. We may balance our check-book (or not), but God holds our lives in the balance. We might manage to keep our doctor’s appointments, but the Living God keeps our hearts beating and our lungs breathing every second when we’re not paying the least bit of attention.

As easy as it is to lose our grip on God, it’s good to know that God does not lose a grip on us!


Responsive hymn: 2001 We Sing To You, O God