On May 29, 1993, I made my first climb up Mount Chiremba
above Old Mutare in Zimbabwe. Just about a hundred
years earlier Joseph Crane Hartzell, the newly elected bishop
for Africa, stood atop this mountain and received a vision from
God. He saw young people running to this place from all directions
with books in their hands, eager to learn. As a founding
faculty member of Africa University, I figured I owed it to him to
attempt that climb in order to see what he had seen.
It was a perfect day to ascend the mountain. Our guide, who
knew the mountain well, safely directed the climbers upward.
About halfway up we took a break to rest. We sat in silence and
absorbed all the sounds and sights below. We could hear the
babies crying at the orphanage off to the right. Students were
singing and clapping in the chapel almost directly below. Shadows
of clouds glided across the hillsides several miles away to
the south with the Africa University construction site at their
base. Everything around us seemed alive. The panorama from
the summit was breathtaking. I could see why Bishop Hartzell
received a vision there as he knelt in prayer. He had a mountaintop
experience, and we did too.
This week we shall explore several important mountaintop
experiences recorded in scripture. Experiences like these offer
us new perspectives. Mountains always draw our attention
upward and remind us of God’s presence. But they also provide
a view of all that lies below. Moses had such an experience
atop Mount Sinai. He met God there and received a vision that
included instruction about how to live. Perhaps you will meet
God on your own mountain this week.
Lord, we long to come up the mountain to spend time with you. Help us to find that sacred space in our lives to dwell in your presence. Amen.
In deep deference and careful obedience, Moses enters the zone of God’s glory, which certifies Moses’ authority. Psalm 99 praises the kingship of Yahweh, while bringing to mind the human agents of God’s rule who facilitate Yahweh’s conversation with the people. The Gospel lesson, like Exodus 24, characterizes what is not fully seen or clearly heard. Jesus is taken up into the zone of God’s glory and so is filled with transcendent authority. Speech about glory points to the assignment of new authority. The epistle reading asserts the authority of the true teachers of the church who rightly present and interpret the scriptural tradition.
• Read Exodus 24:12-18. When did you last experience a life-altering encounter with God?
• Read Psalm 99. Have you ever felt that if God really knew you, you would be hopeless? What changed your mind?
• Read 2 Peter 1:16-21. For the epistle writer, the Transfiguration event focuses more on hearing than on seeing. How do you listen for God’s words?
• Read Matthew 17:1-9. What dark places have you seen brightened by Christ’s presence—through you or others?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.