URC Daily Devotion 18th January 2022

St Luke 6: 12 – 16
Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

In his book My First Summer in the Sierra, [1] the naturalist John Muir writes “Oh, these vast, calm, mea­sureless mountain days, inciting at once to work and rest! Days in whose light every­thing seems equally divine, opening a thou­sand windows to show us God. Nevermore, however weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessings of one mountain day; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.”

Perhaps it was a sense of needing to peer through, to open one of those thousand windows which disclose God that took Jesus up a mountain or into the wilderness when he wanted to or had to make a major decision: to spend time in prayer in solitude.

The decision for Jesus in this passage as he faced the hostility of the Pharisees, was whether or not he should symbolically reveal to them the new Israel. The answer was yes, and he does this by selecting twelve of his disciples, who, according to Luke, he called apostles, corresponding to the twelve tribes of the old Israel.

Although Jesus often withdrew from the everyday it was always to return and act. Muir postulates that the wilderness experience provides the riches to face the tribulations of the world, enabling the action.

Over the past couple of years most of us have been in a wilderness to a greater or lesser degree. We are now returning to the everyday and the fundamental question is how to manage that return. Maybe part of the returning is to wait until we see God through a window. For as T.S. Eliot wrote “The faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: so the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”[2]

God of the infinite, grant us patience to wait
God of the mountains, incite us to work and rest
God of the wilderness, inspire us to act
God of the world, grant us the capacity to be.  Amen

1.          Muir, J. (2003). My First Summer in the Sierra. New York: Random House Inc.
2.          Eliot, T S. (1940) East Coker, https://www.best-poems.net/t_s_eliot/four_quartets_2_east_coker.html

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