33rd Day of Easter: Teach to Obey

May 12, 2021

“Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:20)” I suspect Jesus was not encouraging his followers to teach theology, to teach information about God, the way we learn facts about the history of the United States to become citizens.  Again, obedience implies action and motion towards community not just information gathering for the edification of the learner.  “Teaching to obey” brings to my mind obedience school for pets so that they can be trusted with others, can become guide dogs, and know how to behave for the benefit of all concerned.

         So we are thrown back to ponder the commands Jesus gave his followers during his ministry on earth that we are to learn.  I think of commands like “come unto me ye who are weary,” or “love your enemy and forgive those who persecute you,” or all the teachings in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount.  We are told to teach others to follow the life of Christ who laid down his life for others.  Medical ministries, educational ministries, orphanages, and welfare have grown institutionally out of this.

         When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus agreed that it was to love God with our whole being and then love our neighbor as yourself.  So perhaps the point of reflection today is to turn the flashlight inward and ask ourselves if there is anyone in my life that I need to take the first step to repair relationship with.  There may even be someone deceased who abused me terribly or disappointed me terribly that I no longer have direct access to but to whom I could write a letter that I will then destroy after I turn that hurt over to God.  Life is not fair and we are not perfect and often misunderstandings arise because we do not walk in the other’s shoes, but forgiveness is a choice we are always free to make.

         Jesus tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  As we “go” and “make disciples” – impact others of all types, encouraging love and forgiveness, we can become new creations, baptized in the name of the triune God.  There is hope for the future no matter how dismal the present may seem.  And best of all, God walks with us and we are not alone.  Thank you, Lord.

32nd Day of Easter: Teach

May 11, 2021

“Teaching. (Matthew 28:20)” One of the popular sayings encourages us to share the love of Jesus “and use words if necessary.”  Jesus in his farewell sends his followers forward, “go and make disciples of all nations.”  He makes it clear that this involves baptism, a cleansing of the soul by God giving a new start in life and it involves teaching, learning the rules of the game.  Observation is a slow tedious way to learn a new language, a new game, a new culture but having a friend who explains, who walks with you, who does not criticize, speeds up the learning process. 

         Teaching implies also that the student in learning will sometimes make mistakes and will not always be perfect.  The student does not have the expertise of the teacher and has not mastered the skills and knowledge.  I fear we often think that a profession of faith should be followed by a life that immediately changes and is perfect.  But in-fact making disciples involves teaching and it is a process.

         Teaching is relational, takes time, and involves growth.  Perhaps reflecting on where you want to be growing in your faith right now would be a good exercise.  How might you grow?  Seek our a friend to teach you?  Find a book on the subject?  Go to a retreat center where you could be involved with a spiritual director?  Find an older saint to share with.  As we have gone through this season of Covid and quarantine, it could be that certain spiritual disciples have been neglected while other disciples have found new expressions.  I’m continually amazed at the virtual choirs and instrumental videos coming out involving people from around the world putting their talents together. As a grandparent, I try to pray for specific character traits I would like to be growing in my grandchildren.  We are never too old or too young to be impacting lives of another.  Who are you wanting to teach and who are you learning from today?

31st Day of Easter: Baptize

May 10, 2021

This Thursday we will celebrate the Ascension of Jesus but for now we still continue pondering his farewell speech to his followers.  From the position of having all authority on earth and in heaven, he pointed to faith as a dynamic that is not to be just inward focused for the improvement of their lives but was intended to reach out, “go”, to make a better world.  “Making disciples” we pondered as a two sided coin.  A teacher has not taught until a student has learned.  Making a disciple or follower requires being a person worth following.  Perhaps integrity is the word we use to talk about congruency between belief and life style. 

         Jesus continues, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)” Merriam-Webster defines baptize as “to purify or cleanse spiritually especially by a purging experience or ordeal.”  When we are baptized, we are washed in water, symbolizing the washing of the soul or the cleansing of the soul by accepting the death of Christ as the payment for sin.  The baptized person is considered cleansed in God’s eyes.  It is the rite of initiation.

         It is interesting to note that the Trinity is mentioned here as a unity.  Now we have the mystery named of the three-in-one God.  God, by nature is communal, and the initiation is communal representing a reorientation of origin, reorientation of values, and reorientation of source of wisdom.  What a mouth full!  It is not joining a club by paying fees and learning secret codes.  It is not a reward for having achieved a level of intelligence or gathering of good deeds, and is not like having killed a lion so now you have proved yourself a man.  It is a reorientation of reality.

         Religious wars have been fought over the meaning of these words and just what is implied and required.  I cannot answer all those debates but I can testify that the cleansing of one’s soul is a significant moment, whether as an infant or an adult, whether dipped or dunked, whether public or private.  Being cleansed and being given a fresh start in life is a gift worth celebrating.  Jesus charges his followers to go to others and bring health, cleanness, in relationships with God and world. It is possible to start over, to wake up refreshed, and to experience forgiveness.  That for sure is good news.   

6th Sunday in Easter

May 9, 2021

First Reading: Acts 10:44-48

44While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 46for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

Psalm: Psalm 98

1Sing a new song to the Lord, who has done marvelous things,
  whose right hand and holy arm have won the victory.
2O Lord, you have made known your victory,
  you have revealed your righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3You remember your steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of       Israel;
  all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
4Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands;
  lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing. 
5Sing to the Lord with the harp,
  with the harp and the voice of song.
6With trumpets and the sound of the horn
  shout with joy before the king, the Lord.
7Let the sea roar, and all that fills it,
  the world and those who dwell therein.
8Let the rivers clap their hands,
  and let the hills ring out with joy before the Lord, who comes    to judge the earth.
9The Lord will judge the world with righteousness
  and the peoples with equity.

Second Reading: 1 John 5:1-6

1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 4for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. 5Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
  6This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

Gospel: John 15:9-17

 [Jesus said:] 9“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
  12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

CHILDREN’S SERMON:  The Lion and the Mouse by Aesop

“A Lion lay asleep in the forest, his great head resting on his paws. A timid little Mouse came upon him unexpectedly, and in her fright and haste to get away, ran across the Lion’s nose. Roused from his nap, the Lion laid his huge paw angrily on the tiny creature to kill her.

“Spare me!” begged the poor Mouse. “Please let me go and some day I will surely repay you.”

The Lion was much amused to think that a Mouse could ever help him. But he was generous and finally let the Mouse go.

Some days later, while stalking his prey in the forest, the Lion was caught in the toils of a hunter’s net. Unable to free himself, he filled the forest with his angry roaring. The Mouse knew the voice and quickly found the Lion struggling in the net. Running to one of the great ropes that bound him, she gnawed it until it parted, and soon the Lion was free.

“You laughed when I said I would repay you,” said the Mouse. “Now you see that even a Mouse can help a Lion.”

A kindness is never wasted.

Who represents God in this fable?  The lion.  Who is the mouse?  We are.  It is silly to think that the lion needs the mouse and yet in this story we see relationship.  In today’s text we are challenged to not see ourselves as useless mice to be spared death but to realize that we are in relationship with the great lion, Aslan, and to see that we are more than “servants.”  We are “friends.”

Let us pray.  Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, my Rock and my Redeemer.

SERMON:  We are Friends, Not Servants

As we come down to the end of the Easter season we again return to that last night and Jesus’ talk with the disciples as they finish supper and head to the Garden of Gethsemane as reported in John 15. Our text continues on from last week’s vine and branches talk.  The lion let the mouse go but the story continues, and we continue to think about Jesus’ last thoughts.  As Jesus continues, he further explains about the branch abiding in the vine.  It picks up another image.  We are not servants but friends.  How is that so and why?

First:  “Abide in my love.”  Last week we talked about the branch abiding in the vine so that it has life and strength and can bear fruit.  John continues writing and is a little more specific.  We must abide, focus our thoughts in God’s love. Those early disciples – how many? 12 main ones – changed their world.  I think they did not do it just by peaching and telling people they needed to get saved.  They lived a life style that had the power to love the unloveable, the ability to die in the face of injustice, the strength to go the extra mile, and generally to live a life that was not based on natural human tendencies.  The followers were different from others because they abided in the love of God.  This abiding made a difference and marked their lives.

         John ties this abiding, this different way of loving, together with obeying God’s commandments.  This is a bit harsh on our modern ears as we tend to think of laws as constricting our freedoms and we are all about freedom.  In fact six of the Ten Commandments start with, “do not.”  Don’t kill, don’t commit adultery, don’t slander, don’t steal, and don’t covet.  It is as we read Luther’s explanation of the commandments that we hear a more positive focus:  “We should fear and love God so that” we give life and don’t take it, value our marriages and friendships, say good things about people by putting the best construction on our speech, share our resources, and bath the other in love and not jealousy.  Living within the boundaries of God’s love, following his guidelines maximizes our lives and does not constrict us.  But it is also different from the values lived out in society today or there is a tension.  My example from today is just how grating it is on my freedom to wear a mask that I may or may not believe in.  The lion chooses to let the mouse go free which was against his nature and shows mercy.

         Abiding in God’s love and obeying his commandments brings joy.  Jesus says the outcome is that our joy may be complete.  The world would like us to think that joy comes from wealth, from beauty, from winning elections, from so many things in this world.  As I reflect, it seems that those moments are for the few but we can all know the joy of hugging a friend, the laughter of receiving an unexpected gifts, or the contentment of being complemented by a friend.  As we abide in God’s love and share it with others, joy explodes in our lives.  As we refrain from living outside the boundaries and relinquish the right to revenge or lust or gossip, we experience more joy.  The price we pay is laying down our life for another but the reward we experience is the joy of relationship and the satisfaction of knowing God’s love.  The mouse never forgot the kindness of the lion.

Second, Jesus says that we are no longer “servants” but become “friends.”  This has big implications.  There are no secrets in our relationship with God.  He knows us and he has incarnated and become known by us.  There are no hidden clauses.  One of the cute Christmas movies is Santa Clause 2.  Santa Clause discovers that there is fine print in his contract and that the “clause” is that he must find a Mrs. Clause before Christmas.  And so the adventure begins. We grow as Christians but God does not change the laws every four years. As Christians we learn to use our spiritual muscles and for sure there are times when we stumble and fall, and even fail, but God’s love is not conditional on our performance, on our report card.  Like a parent, we are always his children.  He honors his covenants and works with us as we grow.  The mouse heard the lion roar in distress and was drawn to the problem.

         The term “friend” acknowledges our agency in our partnership with God.  Servants are hired and are expected to perform the “to do” list of the master but friends have personage and agency in a relationship that allows for give and take as we each get to know the other better.  There may be tough times but friendship will stand the test of time.  Perhaps some of you know the fun of meeting friends you haven’t seen for a while and the joy of sharing a cup of coffee and catching up.  We go through those silent times when we may not feel that cozy mountaintop spiritual high and when we wonder if God is listening but then invariably spring comes and winter is over.  The mouse races to help the lion.

         Friends know each other and there are not secrets.  Friends have agency and can initiate into each other’s lives.  Friends generally share similar values and goals.  They are walking along the path of life together.  They may have different gifts, be of different ethnicities, even be of different ages but they are headed in the same direction.  We know that God is building a kingdom and we are his representatives.  We know his expectations and he knows our strengths and weaknesses.   Jesus shares that he has told us about God and so we do not need to worry.  We are secure in that relationship.  The mouse uses his talent to gnaw the ropes of the lion.

Third, we are chosen and we are commissioned as friends.  We have value and we have purpose.  We are to bare fruit, fruit that will last.  As friends we are journeying with God for eternity.  Three masons were asked what they were doing.  The first said: mixing cement.  The second said: building a structure.  The third said: creating a cathedral.  As friends of God, we have eternal perspective and we have purpose that inspires and brings joy to our lives.  We are building a cathedral  We do not love our enemies just because it is commanded but hopefully because we see their value and want to express to them God’s love and invite them into the kingdom.  We do not eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die, but have a perspective that looks into eternity.

         Again we hear the promise that we can ask God anything in Jesus’ name.  This promise we love to pull out of context and make God seem like Santa Clause.  We are reminded today that it is embedded in abiding in God’s love, obeying his commandments, knowing his will, having and a willingness to lay down our life for another.  It is not a blank check but a promise of a relationship that is transparent, respectful and two sided.

         17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another,” is our final sentence today.  The lion does not hurt the mouse and the mouse helps the lion.  The fable is not quite loving one another.  We, on the other hand, as we abide in God’s love, obey his commandments realizing they are the guides to a joyful life.  Zs we value one another we gradually realize more and more that we, each one of us, is chosen and we are not just servants doing tasks for God but are friends that fellowship with him and his body.  What an awesome privilege. 

         In the fable, the mouse helps the lion.  Is this impossible?  Maybe it is so under the realities of this world.  As friends, we are  promised that faith can move mountains and we are in relationship with the God of the universe who has the power to make it happen.  In addition to the privilege of being the friend of Jesus, we become part of a fellowship that is worldwide.  “17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”  Even a mouse like me can help a lion like God and can love one another.  Blessings on the journey!

30th Day of Easter: “I Will Follow Him”

May 8, 2021

This week we have been pondering the last post-resurrection appearance on the mountaintop in Galilee where Jesus gave his final talk to his followers.  He reinforced that as true man, he is also true God, he has all authority in heaven and on earth.  He charged them to “Go and make disciples.”  These words have inspired millions and deeply impacted the trajectory of Christianity and how we understand our faith today.  It is not passive but active, reaching out to others, and the flip side of that coin is that we are to live a life worth emanating. 

         Saturdays I like to end the week by pondering a song that seems to carry some of the flavor of our thinking for the week.  I have chosen “I Will Follow Him” which went to the top of the pop list in the early sixties during my high school years.  It was written as an instrumental about 1961 in Europe but went to the top in 1963 when sung by Little Peggy March who at age 15 became “the youngest female artist to have a U.S. chart-topping single.”

         But it was Whoopi Goldberg singing this song at the end of Sister Act 1 that solidified it as one of my most favorites.  Whoopi plays a Vegas wantabee singer who witnesses a murder and is hidden in a San Francisco convent as a nun leading the choir.  She “contextualizes” songs she sang on stage by changing the words slightly and by putting them in a Christian setting so adding texture and depth to the lyrics. Martin Luther has been criticized as some of his songs similarly were make-overs from the bar.  “I Will Follow Him” captures the love of the disciple for the mentor and I believe captures in music some of the essence of the Great Commission.

Love him, I love him, I love him
And where he goes I’ll follow, I’ll follow, I’ll follow

I will follow him, follow him wherever he may go
There isn’t an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep me away

I must follow him (follow him), ever since he touched my hand I knew
That near him I always must be
And nothing can keep him from me
He is my destiny (destiny)

I love him, I love him, I love him
And where he goes I’ll follow, I’ll follow, I’ll follow
He’ll always be my true love, my true love, my true love
From now until forever, forever, forever

I will follow him (follow him), follow him wherever he may go
There isn’t an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep, keep me away
Away from my love (I love him, I love him, I love him)

29th Day of Easter: Do as I do or as I say?

May 7, 2021

Jesus’ farewell, his famous last words from the mountaintop to the five hundred gathered have deeply impacted the trajectory of Christianity.  Matthew 28:19 records the speech, not as a list of thanks-yous for support and comradeship as we might do today, not as a form of blessing as the patriarch Jacob did for his twelve sons as he lay on his death bed, and not as Nathan Hale did before being hanged, “I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”  Jesus claimed all authority on heaven and earth and told his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations.”  Let’s think about that!

         A disciple is “a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosophe.”  Followers by definition follow someone and usually because that someone is a model of a life or an ideal that is admired.  Gandhi set an example that changed the world by living a life of peaceful non-violent resistance.  Martin Luther King Jr. continued in those footprints, leading the Civil Rights movement.  The mandate to make disciples must start with being a person who is believable and leads a life worth emanating.  Making disciples, I would offer, requires that I become and be a person worthy of having a follower.  I fear we often think of this passage and being a leader as being people with bold rhetoric, flaming zeal, painting a reality that gathers people around to head to the same goal as the person speaking.  Is a disciple maker is someone who gathers people to go to heaven or is the person someone who inspires others to follow the teacher, the leader, the philosophe of Jesus?  Jesus is speaking to his “disciples,” his followers who are to emanate him – healing, loving, and laying down their life and fame for the other.

         This command challenges me to reflect on the models I try to emanate and who have deeply impacted my life.  Likewise I might reflect on whether my life embodies the qualities I pray others will seek to incorporate into their lives.  Or, maybe, I am a “do as I say and not as I do” sort of person.  Making disciples requires that I am a disciple.  So whom am I emanating today?  Who are my heroes and what qualities do I appreciate in their lives?  Think of one or two people (they can be literary, historical, or other) who have deeply impacted the values of your life and spend a moment thanking God for the gift of their presence in your life. We all impact the lives of the people around us.  Let us pray that they see the Christ we love, in us “going” to all nations, not just friends.  Blessings.

28th Day of Easter: Go

May 6, 2021

Jesus opens his farewell speech to his followers from a position of power.  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:18)”  “therefore…” (roll of drums in the background), “Go.”  In Genesis the mandate for humanity was to be fruitful, multiply and care for the earth. But now the mandate is “go.”

         I note that again the mandate is outward focused towards community.  Faith is not just about my happiness or getting to heaven, it is also about how I interact with others.  I also note that there is not a qualifying statement like “go to your friends” but a general “go.”  As a sociologist, I cannot help but see the communal nature of life and God’s will.  Love is not love if it sits silent in my heart but it always seeks a way to “go” towards the other.  Help may be something I ponder but it only becomes reality as I reach out to another.  All the valued characteristics that we pray are growing in our lives are interactional.  The parable Jesus told was the Good Samaritan.  A man is beaten up and left to die.  Three men pass by on the other side of the road unwilling to help the person.  But a foreigner comes along and shows mercy to the wounded.

         We “go” at the directive of God.  It is not because it feels good and we benefit but more because it is God’s will that we be his representatives, his hands and his feet, and his heart tangibly in our world today.  Surprisingly, we will often feel better afterwards.  Our modern orators would say, “It is the right thing to do.” Perhaps today you are needing something from God and so you have prayed.  Often the answer will come in the form of someone caring about you.

         Jesus continues in his farewell but his first instruction is action based on his authority.  The “other” may not appreciate our reaching out but we reach out, not to be appreciated, but in response to how Christ reached out to us.  Perhaps take a moment and think who might appreciate an unexpected act of love like a note, a phone call, a smile, a thank you.  It’s not hard, “Go!”  Blessings.

27th Day of Easter: Farewells

May 5, 2021

Farewell blessings are interesting.  The Swahili farewell is “Mungu akubariki.”  That means “God bless you.”  The English “good bye” also means “God be with you,” but “bye” comes from “be with you every time.”  In our reading we are looking at how Jesus is bidding farewell to his followers.  He does not say, “It’s been great.  I hope we meet again in heaven.”  Matthew writes about that moment on the mountaintop in Galilee as Jesus starts his farewell with, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28: 18)”

         Jesus starts his farewell with his trump card.  He’s the boss and what he is about to say comes from his position of authority, not as a friend and buddy.  He is not speaking as a bumper sticker on a car fender or as a mug in the cupboard to put a cup of coffee to calm your nerves when you feel stressed.  Jesus is speaking with authority.  He is not requesting or inviting or proposing.  He is not inviting comment.  He is speaking as God.

         I fear we have familiarized the spiritual world into cute cartoon fairies and Jesus has become more of a loving friend who walks with us, our good shepherd. Our tendency is to forget that the shepherd is also the one with the stick to fight the wolf and who has the responsibility to discipline the wayward.  I do not think that makes God the micromanager of reality, dictating each moment of our lives so that we are only pawns.  We have real agency but as Jesus bids farewell to friends, he reminds us that all authority is his in all realms of reality.  He is about to give his followers an impossible job, to change the world using all he has taught them.

         Perhaps today there is something in your life that is feeling impossible and insurmountable.  Perhaps you are feeling like a minority like the disciples.  Perhaps you are feeling unwanted and unpopular.  Or maybe it is just Covid, unemployment, and the ordinary problems of life.  It is good to stop and meditate on Jesus’ words, “All power is given to me in heaven and on earth.”  The situation may be beyond our ability to cope but it is not beyond his and he walks with us.  That is worth remembering.  Blessings as you journey.

26th Day of Easter: Worship or Doubt

May 4, 2021

Matthew continues.  The disciples have gone to their sacred space, the mountaintop, to meet with Jesus in Galilee after the resurrection.  “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matthew 28:17)” Ouch.  Some worshiped but some doubted.  The post resurrection experiences are watershed experiences.  The resurrection is a watershed experience today.  Some believe, we call it faith, and others doubt.

         We have those experiences in life that impact the direction we are heading.  If we say, “I do” to marriage, our life changes forever.  I often joke that I did not read the fine print in the marriage contract.  A baby is born and life changes.  We accept a job and life changes.  I love Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Less Traveled.”  Two paths in a woods lead in two different directions and the person chooses the one less traveled.  It has made all the difference.   When faced with the resurrected Christ we choose, worship or doubt.

         I like this definition of what Christians mean by worship that I found on the Internet,

          “Put simply, worship is declaring the greatness of someone or something. … It is the act of giving up your own glory to make sure everyone knows that the thing being worshiped is pretty awesome.    To put it even more succinctly, worship is bowing down to lift up.”

So doubt is questioning the greatness, the right to glory, the truth of something.  Not everyone believes or worships.  So ponder for a moment what you worship, what you think is great, what you are willing to bow down before.  I can believe Pres. Biden is president of the United States but I may not bow down to that belief.  The disciples believed the reality of the risen Christ and it led to worship, to bowing down to lift him up.

         Bowing down is a relinquishing of our rights.  I bow down and worship by going to church on Sunday rather than sleeping in.  I bow down and worship when I sing music that focuses me on eternal values.  I bow down when I respect and take care of that which has been entrusted to me by God, sharing and loving.  If you are discouraged today, think of the things, people, places, and happenings that make you forget self and bow down in awe.  The disciples when they saw Jesus, alive, worshiped.  He meets us today.  Let us not be doubters but worshipers. 

25th Day of Easter

May 3, 2021

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go,” shares Matthew in his Gospel.  Luke on the other hand has the disciples, the men of Galilee, going to a mountain outside Bethany.  When Luke writes the Book of Acts, he opens with Jesus meeting with the disciples but place is not specified.  The exact place may not be as significant as that all accounts indicate that the last sighting of Jesus was on a mountain by a large group of people.  It sounds very similar to Moses and the people of Israel gathering at Mt. Sinai.  Elijah too went to Mt. Sinai to meet with God.  Sacred spaces are places that we today might call “thin places” where the spiritual and the ordinary seem to meet.

         In Kenya a large tree standing by itself might be recognized as a sacred space and often there would be a leg of goat dangling from the limb, a sacrifice to the gods.  We consider churches, mosques, synagogues as sacred spaces and places of refugee.  They are places of prayer.  They are places of symbolism.  Churches often have a cross, a Bible, an altar, a baptismal font, and perhaps instruments of music. Candles set a calm, meditative atmosphere.  Bibles and literature are available for reading.

         The disciples went to a mountain-top, where ancestors had gone, where earth touhes heaven to meet with Jesus. Where do you go when you want to spend time with God?  Actually, I have my recliner chair where I can have a cup of coffee, read and meditate in the morning or retreat to when I come home from work.  The routine sets a spiritual rhythm in my soul. God can meet us anywhere and often in the unexpected places but having designated places that our bodies know to relax and reflect is also a good spiritual discipline

         What places are special or sacred to you?  What characterizes the space?  Do you have routines or traditions that help your soul unwind?  Perhaps take time to reflect on times of spiritual encounter and think of common themes that characterize these encounters.  God invites us to call upon his name, “(Psalm 50:15) Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”  2 Peter 5:2 tells us to “cast your cares on him for he cares for you.”  Spend some time today in your special place and meet with the one who holds your life in his hands.