This morning, this 3rd day of Advent, the reading was in Isaiah 25:6-10. It is of the ascent onto the mountain for the banquet He prepares. It is lavish and set before us. He swallows up death, Oh my soul, and removes every veil that covers us from His glory and presence. He wipes all the tears from all the faces and He removes my reproach, our shame, His people. He sends the one we wait for, our Salvation. What an incredible, beautiful, perfect snapshot of what He offers us. Grace.
Then the reading went to Psalm 23, where He feeds me, supplies my needs, and even gives rest and restoration. He leads me, shows me, righteousness. He gives courage and comfort even in the darkest hour. Goodness and lovingkindness will follow me and I have the great honor of living in Him forever and ever and ever. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord.
Then to Matthew 15:29-39 where Jesus goes up to the mountain and heals, is moved by compassion, and feeds the crowd around Him. I ask myself, what am I pouring out to those around me? Am I moved by compassion? Am I dwelling on the mountain with Him?
In the prayers and readings for today I read the most stirring devotion. I will share it here with permission. I will just copy it, it is not my paraphrase.
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts…will wipe away the tears from all faces.” (Isaiah 25: 6-8)
To set out on a mountain trail takes us away from the ordinary. It is better to travel light, so we leave stuff behind. Soon the sounds of traffic and trailhead fade. Bird cries and crunchy gravel interrupt the quiet. Stumbling and panting, we search for footing and feel our usual worry losing its grip. Arriving at the destination, the effort does not deplete us. Our vision clears and we can see for miles. Emptied out, the self comes alive again.
In today’s readings the scenes on the mountain fill the people with amazement. After a climb, we expect fatigue and hunger. Stumbling blocks are no surprise. We are familiar with regrets and setbacks. But a God who wipes away tears and heals broken lives? Warmth and mercy heaped on all who arrive at the resting place? Food and comfort freely given? My burdens gently loosened? Surely there’s been a mistake. Where are the accusations? This banquet cannot be for me. Am I worth it?
On Sisyphus’s doomed mountain there is no resting place. Climbing is endless and we never arrive. The day begins and ends in exhaustion. Our busy lives have no deeper purpose. The prophets of these slopes preach the pointlessness of being human. They ridicule the visions of those who seek fulfillment.
To begin our day with prayer and quiet brings us closer to God’s holy mountain. Maybe I simply pray for faith. Maybe I follow my breath flowing in and out. In quiet I listen for the presence that lies behind words. Entering into emptiness the banquet finds me.
In Advent I set out to find myself on God’s holy mountain. Here everyone is welcome.
Creighton's Department of Philosophy
Today may we ascend, may our vision clear, may what He created in us come alive, may there be no veil, may our hearts take great courage and hope in the goodness of His grace and offering. Alelula.