Mountains are good places to pray. We are told more than once that Jesus goes there to pray (Lk 6:12; Mk 6:46; Mt 14:23).
I always used to think that Jesus sought the quietness and nature but mountains are special in other ways. Moses meets God on the mountain. Jews and Samaritans discuss which mountain you should pray on (John 4:20). Mountains are clearly distinct from ‘high places’ on which the idol worship took place (Lev. 26:9; 1 Kings 14:23). I wonder in what ways?
These special places for meeting God are called ‘thin’ places by the Celts. They are spaces where God’s presence is near and heaven seems so close as to kiss earth. We know places like this, but the experience of Moses and Jesus is even more intense. It seems as if the encounter with God enters their clothes and their very skin. Odd that for Jesus this is visible only on top of the mountain but Moses takes it down with him.
Clearly that is too much for the people to bear and he wears a veil; so even with Moses the encounter with God becomes hidden. Elijah and Moses talk with Jesus about his ‘departure’, his ‘exodus’. It is this exodus that remains of the experience, the exodus is not hidden, the freedom both from Pharaoh (Moses) and from death (Jesus) extends beyond the ‘thin place’ into our own lives.
7 February 2016
Lk. 9: 28-36; Ex. 34: 29-end
This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.