Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Space in Between, Part X

Pausing while writing a sermon for Sunday, the process reminds me of when Mark and I hiked Mount Olympus a few years after we moved to Utah.

We got started on that hike awfully early, but it was good to beat the mid-day heat and the potential for getting caught in an afternoon storm.  I had seen the mountains, of course, and could certainly point to them, but it was still amazing to pull off the freeway, park nearby, and within such a short time find ourselves ascending a mountain trail.

There were around ten or so others in our little pack of people, clumping into smaller groups that mingled and morphed throughout the day.  The climb was persistently steep; we paused periodically to catch our breath, rehydrate, and have snacks.  I was glad to be with others on the journey.  We passed the time talking, and supported and encouraged each other whenever the path started to seem endless.

At the top, we looked down one side toward the valley and across the other toward the further beauty not visible from the city below.  Voices continued as before, but subdued and partially muted by the big open space around us.  Over eight years have passed, but I still look at the mountains often and remember resting on Mount Olympus alongside new friends, savoring the beauty of the experience.

Like that hike, this time of sermon preparation is a lot of work.  The passage isn't new to me, but I have still been amazed to "pull off the freeway" just a little ways and find myself within such a short time walking a challenging and beautiful path.  I am grateful to be with many others in spirit along the way, both in print and in shared life experiences.

Pastors sometimes refer to "preparing a message," and that is important.  Before we can really do that, though, we must first be prepared by the message.  As the years pass, I want to read this passage and remember this challenging and worthwhile journey.

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