Coming Down From the Mountain

I forgot that coming down is harder than climbing up. The views were incredible. We hiked in dappled shade up dry creek beds and discovered huckleberries by sunny streams. No cell service. Just face-to-face conversations. I watched the path carefully, trying to keep my footing on the rocks. My back tired, my muscles sore. It took longer than I expected.

The people saw that Moses was taking a long time to come down from the mountain…. The Lord used to speak to Moses face-to-face, like two people talking to each other. Ex. 32:1a; 33:11

No one in the desert knew if Moses was still alive. Or what he was doing. There was no communication. People need to know what’s happening. They like regular updates from leaders. What’s the plan? When and where are we going? But Moses was out of contact on the mountain for too long. 

They gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come on! Make us gods who can lead us. As for this man Moses who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don’t have a clue what has happened to him.” Ex. 32:1b (CEB)

I have a tendency to cease communication when I leave town. I live in the moment, trying to be fully present to the people and places where I am. Which is good. But we human beings get impatient with silence. We need a word, a connection, an assurance that we haven’t been abandoned. Or else we start looking for other leaders.

It would have been helpful if Moses could have texted ahead, “On my way. Got the commandments!” Then the people could have been ready. Or if Joshua had emailed Aaron a Leadership Team summary for the newsletter, “Our meeting with the Lord was blessed with many practical instructions. Click here for details.” A lot was happening up there, but the people were not in the loop.

As I return from the mountains, what do I bring back with me? What have I been hearing in my time away? I do not imagine myself as Moses, carrying the ten commandments. But the scriptural metaphors of absence and homecoming, mountaintop conversations and return to everyday life, still speak to us. When we come down from the mountain, we carry something with us. Perhaps we too have words to share.

Vacation allows time to read and reflect. To be alone and with family. To contemplate questions, and even visit other churches. I have found myself intrigued by Rob Bell’s latest book, What Is the Bible? and wonder how to share that experience. After being gone, I eagerly look forward to reconnecting at our annual NCF retreat. My excitement is building for a new teaching series and another joint worship service with Restoration Urban Ministries. 

I notice what the Lord says to Moses after the unholy chaos of his return gets sorted out. God is ready to get on with it. Move forward. Get the journey re-started. Focus on the destination.  

“Now go and lead the people to the place I described to you. My messenger here will go in front of you.” Ex: 32:34

My anticipation for what’s next is building. We’ve got places to go. A destination that the Lord has described. A mission of peace, justice, mercy, restoration, and love. A testimony of God’s faithfulness to a group of people, doing our best to listen. We don’t go alone. The Lord’s messenger goes ahead of us, lighting the way. May we have the courage to get up and follow. 


p.s. Tickets are limited to hear Rob Bell in C-U at the Spurlock museum Saturday Sept 28. Purchase your ticket here, or reply to this email and we will purchase a block of tickets (reimburse NCF $30 as you are able, check memo: Rob Bell.)
Bulletin: 7/28
Order of Service: 7/28
Sermon: The Community of Faith and What it Means to Me
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