A sermon by Fabiana Cooper
I was excited when Linda invited me to share this morning. You see I’d often been accused of preaching many times, but now I was being ASKED to preach!
As I began to study the Scriptures for today’s reading, I noticed that the word mountain appears about 9 times. In Psalm 99 and Psalm 2 both refer to the “holy hill of God”. The mountain that we have here in East Hampton is Mount Tom. Although it seems to me in comparison to the Sandia of New Mexico and the Rockies a hill. I sure it is a matter of perception. In Exodus we see Moses going up the mountain to receive the revelation of the 10 Commandments. In the books of Peter and Matthew we see Peter, James and John receiving the revelation of the transfigured Christ. These men saw God in an amazing different way.
I love mountains. They are beautiful and sometimes frightening. I suspect our Bible characters were a bit frightened and awed by what they saw. Even though I love mountains I am afraid of heights. Going through the mountains for me is a mixture of thrill and awe. I am scared, but what I can see is worth it.
On top of a mountain things look different. You can see farther. You see things you never noticed before. The view is often breathtaking.
Mountains are also functional. I have no sense of direction in regard to east and west. I barely can manage right and left. When I lived in Albuquerque, before the days of Global Positioning Systems I navigated the city by determining by whether I was to the right or left of the mountains and whether I was going toward the mountains or away from them. Now I have 2 GPS and I still get lost from time to time. People often say to me, “east is where the sun comes up”, to which I reply,” what if it’s at night or foggy”? Even at night you can see the mountain and rare is the fog or cloud that completely obscures the mountain. Mountains provide a distinct vantage point.
Not long after I began attending St. Phillips, I attended a Study Group led by Linda Moore and one of the books we studied was Celebration of Disciplines by Richard Foster. In the book Mr. Foster stated the Disciplines are not paths to God rather they are tools we can use in our pursuit of a life lived on God’s terms. Some of the disciplines are familiar such as prayer, fellowship, Bible Study, fasting. Speaking of the F word…
with the Lenten season fast approaching, I began to ponder what I should give up. Last Sunday Fr. Michael commented on rather that thinking about what we should give up, why not seek out ways that would enhance these concepts of living life on Go’s terms. I had been leaning in that direction and he gave me the nudge I needed. Might I add or deepen the disciplines I already practiced in pursuit of the God life? What would enable me to see more clearly? I would put it to you that the “Disciplines” are a way of going up the mountain, to get direction, perspective and objectivity.
Moses, Peter, James and John had an encounter with God on the mountain that immensely changed their lives. We also can benefit from the mountain top. Not only for us, but the people we come in contact with every day. Peter, James and John saw a transfigured Christ, might not we ourselves be transformed? Might not we be able to give people a better view of what it means to live life on God’s terms? I found it interesting that Jesus told Peter, James and John not to go down and immediately start telling everyone about what they saw. Being on the mountain is exhilarating. However it is difficult to live on a mountain. It is in the valley where things grow.
How appropriate it is that our motto is” be careful if you come here you will grow”. Valleys are often places of great beauty, full of growing living things. I believe Jesus wanted the disciples to wait in order that the experience on the mountain would sustain their inner growth so at the right time and in the right season that they would be able to share what they had experience.
As I mentioned, I have frequently been accused of preaching. What is preaching but the sharing of good news, the Gospel. May we also go up the mountain so we might enter into a deeper understanding of what it is to live this life on “God’s term s”. Having done that we will be more equipped to do as St. Frances said, “Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words”.