On God’s Holy Mountain

Isaiah11Isaiah 11 text

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Given the momentous changes our country has experienced over the past several months, we offer a reflection on what it means to be on “God’s Holy Mountain,” as expressed by the prophet Isaiah. In his prophetic writing, Isaiah spelled out God’s dream for the world, where God on his holy mountain is inviting his people and his creatures with seemingly opposite and even dangerous characteristics, to live together in harmony. In Chapter 11, verses 6-9, Isaiah boldly proclaims:

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.

The cow and the bear shall graze,
together their young shall lie down;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.

The baby shall play by the viper’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.

They shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.

Isaiah presents seemingly impossible combinations of actions: how can the wolf be the guest of the lamb? And yet as humans we are not locked into a set of animal behaviors. Our personalities are malleable. We can learn to love our enemy, to reach out to the “other” who lives and operates differently than we do. We can appreciate that in God’s dream for our world we are invited to enter into dialogue with everyone, to create bridges that allow us to cross the chasms of our indifference and dislike, until we reach a place of commonality. This is not an easy task!

We invite you on this journey of reconciliation where we truly appreciate what it is to live together on God’s Holy Mountain. We suggest that we start, very simply, through prayer. Let us pray for:

Someone I disagree with,
The person I don’t like,
Someone who makes me really angry,
The person I hate,
Someone who is homeless,
Someone who looks differently than I do,
Someone whose sexual orientation is different than mine,
Someone who is divorced,
Someone born outside this country,
Someone in a different socio-economic group,
Someone who belongs to a different religious group,
Or the person who practices my religion, but differently than I do,
Someone I find difficult to deal with.

Find one person who fits into one of the above categories and pray for them, and pray that you can understand a little better what separates you from them. Then pray that they be blessed, that God give them all the blessings you want for yourself and your family. Our goal is to build a practice to heal the woundedness in ourselves, in our family, our Church, our community, our country.

We realize, having recently celebrated Jesus’s birth, that he came as Emmanuel, God with us. That he left his divinity, taking on our humanity, to be one with us, to heal us. He was born in poverty to a young teenage girl. As an infant he became a refugee. As an adult he showed compassion and mercy to those he encountered. He asked them what can he do for them and they responded, “Lord, I really want to see.”  Isn’t that what we want? Jesus showed us how to extend compassion and mercy to those that are different than we are. And the vision of the world that Jesus sought to live out is embodied in Isaiah’s depiction of God’s Holy Mountain.

Let us embark on a journey that deepens our understanding of the “other.” Initially we will do this though prayer. That will create the foundation on which we might build a process of engaging, encountering and eventually accompanying the other. In future posts we will discuss how we can build structures across the chasms that divide us so that one day we can all live together on God’s Holy Mountain.

-Prepared by parishioner Roger Sullivan