Worship at Gloria Dei Saturdays 5:00pm, Sundays 9:00am and 10:30am

Mountain Top Experience

I am sure you have heard the expression, “mountain top experience”. We also use “the mountain top” and “the valley” to talk about seasons of our lives. Mountain tops can be wonderful, and we can feel like we have it all figured out, nothing can go wrong, we are on top of the world! The valley can feel lonely, overwhelming, scary, uncertain, and a bunch of emotions and situations we don’t always like to feel.

The end of January I had a mountain top experience; a bucket list experience for me. I was able to travel to the Holy Land for the first part of my Sabbatical. The second part will be taken August 1 – Oct 10, 2022. This experience was filled with lots of learning, laughter, joy, lots of literal mountain top experiences. The picture is of a few in our group that hiked up 700 stairs and 3.8 miles to the top of Masada. This is at the top and we did have to hike back down. (The cable car was not running that day, and where there is a will, there is a way).
Being in the Holy Land helped to rearrange the furniture in my brain and better picture the stories in the bible better. It has helped me to understand some of the little details and to read the bible a little more closely. This week in the Gospel of John we are in the 7th Chapter. Things are changing. The anger towards Jesus and His ministry is growing.

Most of Jesus ministry happens in the region of Galilee, near the Sea of Galilee. Besides heading down to the temple to flip tables and cleanse the Temple, Jesus is mostly up in the region of Galilee. Jesus is also causing waves on His way back to the northern area when He encounters the Samaritan woman.
We spent the first 2 days by the Sea of Galilee. I love it up there! It was beautiful, less people. The countryside was green and life was more laidback. It was ripe for reflection and space to spend time in prayer. I imagine that is how Jesus felt.
On the 3rd day we went south to Jerusalem. The feeling was big city. There was a lot more political and religious anxiety in the air. I imagine it felt the same in Jesus time. In the region of Galilee He had more space to do ministry, to proclaim what was to come. In John 7:1-9, Jesus knows that they should go to Jerusalem for the Festival of Booths, but he really doesn’t want to. He knows that heading south to Jerusalem will change things. For me it felt a little bit like coming down from the mountain. I love Jerusalem, don’t get me wrong, but it is just different and more intense. A little bit of a culture shock. It changed things.
Spoiler alert, Jesus goes down to Jerusalem even though the text at first says he remained in Galilee. In the portion we are reading for this weekend, He is at the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus is preaching and talking about being the living water. The chief priests and Pharisees are getting more and more upset with Jesus. Jesus ministry is changing and He is not making any friends with the temple leaders. He knows that He is about to walk through the valley.

I am wondering if there have been moments in your life when you have wanted to stay on the mountain top? The place where it’s calm, you have it all figured out. Life seems slower, easier, and answers come easier.

The problem is that we can’t just stay there, no matter how much we want too sometimes. We need those moments for clarity and to sometimes feel the nearness of God in a real way, but there is work to do. God still showed up in the valley, sometimes even more so. In the hard work, in the uncertainty, when we have nothing left, God is still faithful.

May you feel God’s loving presence and know that God is with you in ALL circumstances and seasons of your life. That God’s promise is FOR YOU, now and forever!

Pastor Sarah Goldammer

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