Journey to the mountain Feast

Started by J. Thomas Shelley, March 31, 2012, 08:38:02 PM

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J. Thomas Shelley

A quarter -century ago my wife and I attended a week-long conference in Topeka, Kansas.   Two years prior we had attended a similar conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and had then headed north in the "four corners" region.   We found southern Colorado so delightful that we were determined to return.

Topeka seemed to place us within striking distance.  The previous Colorado trip had not allowed time to ride to the summit of Pike's Peak; so this return visit would be centered on Colorado Springs.

But even with such a beautiful destination in mind we were quite unprepared for the journey.   Everyone should travel by land westward through the length--the great length--of Kansas once in their lifetime. 

The pancake-griddle flatness of the nearly treeless landscape quickly became monotony.   In every direction there was wheat, wheat, and more wheat--and only wheat.

At fairly regular intervals a small dark speck would appear on the horizon.   Even at Interstate highway speeds it would remain just a speck for many minutes before suddenly enlarging to such size that it was recognizable as the regional grain elevator.  We would whiz past the structure back to endless fields of grain for many minutes until the next such speck would appear.

The cycle repeated for hour after hour after hour.  Field-speck-grain elevator; field-speck-grain elevator.  Hour after hour after hour.  Before lunch, and after.   Field-speck-grain elevator--again, and again.

Then, near the Colorado border something new emerged on the horizon.  This was not a single dark speck, but a random pattern of mostly white with dark intermixed.   Like the seemingly endless grain elevators this too seemed to remain tiny and distant.

But as afternoon wore on it became unmistakable--we had been staring all that time at the peaks of the front range of the Colorado Rockies; and now, at long (very long) last they were filling the view from the windshield.

The day before our departure from Topeka the midwest had been raked by severe thunderstorms, hail, and tornadoes.  Our cross-Kansas journey had carried us deeper and deeper into the clear, cool Canadian air that had spawned the severe weather.

We arrived in Colorado Spring with plenty of daylight remaining-- thanks to a favorable time-zone change--and immediately headed to Mount Manitou.   With a summit of slightly under 9,500 feet it is definitely the tiny cousin of Pike's Peak.   We rode the now defunct Manitou incline to its summit.

The afternoon sun and crystal clear skies afforded a view eastward of the flat expanse we had crossed.   Even though this was the smaller of the railway scarred peaks it was readily apparent how Katherine Lee Bates had found the inspiration for the opening lines of America the Beautiful,  for here indeed were the sparkling spacious skies and amber waves of grain.

Would we have appreciated that view without the journey that had preceded it?   Most definitely.   But the skies were all the richer for having passed through the landscape now greeting our eyes.

On the Festival of the Resurrection of Our Lord we will be brought to the summit of the mountain on which God spreads before us the ultimate blessings of plenty and peace:

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
   will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food,
   a feast of well aged wines,
of rich food full of marrow,
   of well aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
   the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations
   he will swallow up death forever...
      --Isaiah 25:6-7

This is the mountain which fulfills what Abraham, the father of the faithful  foreshadowed when he named the mountain where he had taken his only son Isaac for sacrifice "Moriah"--the Lord shall provide --in that poignant saga by which we embarked on the Lenten journey.

We can--and, most assuredly, we will--reach this mountain on the Queen of Festivals and Feast of feasts whether we have been rigorous or lax; whether we have been attentive or indifferent; whether we have been diligent or neglectful. But the view is most spectacular and the celebration most jubilant if we first make the difficult journey.

         This is the LORD for whom we have waited;
         let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
Greek Orthodox Deacon - Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

J. Thomas Shelley

#1
Published in the parish newsletter this year; inspired (mostly) by the choral piece "Come Everyone, Taste and See" by Malcolm Speed and (slightly) by the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom.

Offered for your refreshement and encouragement on the final week of the Lenten journey.

And an important post-script:  This was written and published a few weeks before experiencing my first (nearly) full Orthodox Holy Week and, especially, Pascha.
Greek Orthodox Deacon - Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Timotheus Verinus

Excuuuuuu.. se me! But when are you guys going to stop passing through Colorado without saying hi? My wife likely passed you as she was driving up the pass to our little house in Woodland Park, as she does weekly, so even though we are now in Denver, we go that way quite often.

Please any who pass this way, let me buy you dinner and a beverage of choice.

And yes, this is where God lives  ;D ;D

TV
TAALC Pastor

lthayer

Quote from: Rev. J. Thomas Shelley, STS on March 31, 2012, 08:38:02 PM
A quarter -century ago my wife and I attended a week-long conference in Topeka, Kansas.   Two years prior we had attended a similar conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and had then headed north in the "four corners" region.   We found southern Colorado so delightful that we were determined to return.

Topeka seemed to place us within striking distance.  The previous Colorado trip had not allowed time to ride to the summit of Pike's Peak; so this return visit would be centered on Colorado Springs.

But even with such a beautiful destination in mind we were quite unprepared for the journey.   Everyone should travel by land westward through the length--the great length--of Kansas once in their lifetime. 

The pancake-griddle flatness of the nearly treeless landscape quickly became monotony.   In every direction there was wheat, wheat, and more wheat--and only wheat.

At fairly regular intervals a small dark speck would appear on the horizon.   Even at Interstate highway speeds it would remain just a speck for many minutes before suddenly enlarging to such size that it was recognizable as the regional grain elevator.  We would whiz past the structure back to endless fields of grain for many minutes until the next such speck would appear.

The cycle repeated for hour after hour after hour.  Field-speck-grain elevator; field-speck-grain elevator.  Hour after hour after hour.  Before lunch, and after.   Field-speck-grain elevator--again, and again.

Then, near the Colorado border something new emerged on the horizon.  This was not a single dark speck, but a random pattern of mostly white with dark intermixed.   Like the seemingly endless grain elevators this too seemed to remain tiny and distant.

But as afternoon wore on it became unmistakable--we had been staring all that time at the peaks of the front range of the Colorado Rockies; and now, at long (very long) last they were filling the view from the windshield.

The day before our departure from Topeka the midwest had been raked by severe thunderstorms, hail, and tornadoes.  Our cross-Kansas journey had carried us deeper and deeper into the clear, cool Canadian air that had spawned the severe weather.

We arrived in Colorado Spring with plenty of daylight remaining-- thanks to a favorable time-zone change--and immediately headed to Mount Manitou.   With a summit of slightly under 9,500 feet it is definitely the tiny cousin of Pike's Peak.   We rode the now defunct Manitou incline to its summit.

The afternoon sun and crystal clear skies afforded a view eastward of the flat expanse we had crossed.   Even though this was the smaller of the railway scarred peaks it was readily apparent how Katherine Lee Bates had found the inspiration for the opening lines of America the Beautiful,  for here indeed were the sparkling spacious skies and amber waves of grain.

Would we have appreciated that view without the journey that had preceded it?   Most definitely.   But the skies were all the richer for having passed through the landscape now greeting our eyes.

On the Festival of the Resurrection of Our Lord we will be brought to the summit of the mountain on which God spreads before us the ultimate blessings of plenty and peace:

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
   will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food,
   a feast of well aged wines,
of rich food full of marrow,
   of well aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
   the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations
   he will swallow up death forever...
      --Isaiah 25:6-7

This is the mountain which fulfills what Abraham, the father of the faithful  foreshadowed when he named the mountain where he had taken his only son Isaac for sacrifice "Moriah"--the Lord shall provide --in that poignant saga by which we embarked on the Lenten journey.

We can--and, most assuredly, we will--reach this mountain on the Queen of Festivals and Feast of feasts whether we have been rigorous or lax; whether we have been attentive or indifferent; whether we have been diligent or neglectful. But the view is most spectacular and the celebration most jubilant if we first make the difficult journey.

         This is the LORD for whom we have waited;
         let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
After a very long day, and before a very long week, thank you for this Pr. Shelley.  So very much what these tired eyes needed to read!  Hope to see you in Danville May 7-8.

Brian Stoffregen

The Rocky Mountains are nice. We've lived in Denver. We also think that the smarter people went past the Rockies and found something even more beautiful in the Pacific Northwest. :)
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

efretheim

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on March 31, 2012, 11:10:20 PM
The Rocky Mountains are nice. We've lived in Denver. We also think that the smarter people went past the Rockies and found something even more beautiful in the Pacific Northwest. :)
It rains too much - all the time.  You'll never see anything nice because of the clouds.  The mold is bad for allergies.  People fall out of bed and drown.  Don't bother, nothing to see here.  Just go away, there are too many people already.  And never, ever, ever say something like you just did - more people might come.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Erik Fretheim on April 01, 2012, 01:41:31 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on March 31, 2012, 11:10:20 PM
The Rocky Mountains are nice. We've lived in Denver. We also think that the smarter people went past the Rockies and found something even more beautiful in the Pacific Northwest. :)
It rains too much - all the time.  You'll never see anything nice because of the clouds.  The mold is bad for allergies.  People fall out of bed and drown.  Don't bother, nothing to see here.  Just go away, there are too many people already.  And never, ever, ever say something like you just did - more people might come.


Oops. For those who already aren't ignoring me, ignore what I wrote above.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

J. Thomas Shelley

#7
My journey took to that Mountain took an unexpected turn today.

As soon as I had ended the Holy Monday Eucharist and made minimal preparations for tomorrow's liturgy I headed 15 miles west to the continuum of care community where our oldest male member resides.

Ernie has been suffering from congestive heart failure; the condition which afflicte my father and three of my four grandparents.  Genetically, I am doomed.   Ernie had hoped to be a candidate for an experimental valve replacment operation done by catheter, telling one and all that even if he did not survive the procedure "I might be able to help someone".

But he was not fit to be a candidate...so he was returned to the community under Hospice care.

Last Monday his digestive system was too unstable to receive the Eucharist.

So, around 10:15 I arrived, found him in better digestive health, and shared Christ's Feast with him.

Around 11:15  he entered into Life Everlasting.  Quickly, painlessly, unexpectedly.

The Nunc Dimittis now rings more beautifully than ever in my ears....Orlando Gibbons setting, of course.

That tune will be our Processional (LBW # 206) as we begin the Triduum and the final ascent to the Mountain's summit.
Greek Orthodox Deacon - Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

J. Thomas Shelley

Just before Palm Sunday I shared the original newsletter piece with an Antiochian Orthodox Priest and Deacon who have become dear friends.    On the eve of their Palm Sunday the Priest emailed me to ask my permission to incorporate the journey metaphor into his sermon.

This afternoon, while sharing some eastern feasting with these brothers following Agape Vespers I learned that this metaphor deeply touched many in that congregation.  As Holy Week progressed they would speak of "passing another grain bin" but by Friday they were saying "we see the mountains".

Perhaps the breath of the Spirit--read from John 20 this morning in the West and this afternoon in the East--is beginning to animate the Church to "breathe with both her lungs", to borrow the phrase of Blessed John Paul II.  Let us pray, let us ask the Lord.
Greek Orthodox Deacon - Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

J. Thomas Shelley

Greek Orthodox Deacon - Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

John Mundinger

Quote from: Timotheus Verinus on March 31, 2012, 09:07:10 PM
Excuuuuuu.. se me! But when are you guys going to stop passing through Colorado without saying hi? My wife likely passed you as she was driving up the pass to our little house in Woodland Park, as she does weekly, so even though we are now in Denver, we go that way quite often.

Please any who pass this way, let me buy you dinner and a beverage of choice.

And yes, this is where God lives  ;D ;D

TV

God moved to Montana when IBM moved to Boulder!   ;)

But, note the Indian Peaks in my avatar.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

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