Most of us this week are confined to our homes as we self-quarantine due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. If you’re like me, you may be wrestling with the fact that THIS week we will all be observing Holy Week apart from each other. As a pastor and missionary, I always anticipate the deep significance of Holy Week, and I consider it a privilege to lead my congregation especially in Good Friday and Easter services. We will still do that this week online, but it all still feels off.
Said another way, in these days we are to be focused on what usually is a mountain-top experience (There is no better day in the Christian calendar than Easter!), even as we feel as if we are in an emotional valley. The Jewish pilgrims trudged for days toward Jerusalem on winding, climbing roads, weary and yet excited. On many occasions they sang psalms of ascent. We lift up our eyes to the hills (or mountains) – where does our help come from (Psalm 121:1)?
As we near Good Friday, we, too, are weary. We find ourselves in a valley, and we know there is a lot of climbing yet to be done. However, our focus is not on where we are but on where God will lead us. Our eyes are fixed on a higher place. Through Lent, we have joined our Savior in “resolutely setting out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). And now, as Timothy & Julie Tennent say, the emotional valley can be transformed into a truly spiritual mountain:
“Mountains provide a great reminder of the presence of God, because God met his people on the mountains. God met Abraham on Mount Moriah and provided the sacrificial substitute for Isaac. God met Moses on Mount Sinai and entered into covenant with his people, giving them both Law and promises. God met Elijah on Mount Carmel and revealed himself as the true and living God, not like the idols of the nations. As Christians, we realize that this trajectory of hope whereby God meets his people on mountains continued. Jesus met us on the Mount of Beatitudes and taught us the ways of the kingdom. Jesus met us on the Mount of Transfiguration and revealed his coming glory. Finally, in the greatest act of all, God met the whole human race on Mount Calvary, and revealed his greatest love for a lost world!”
It is that great love for our hurting, diseased, and fearful world that we celebrate in these days.
Will you join your Savior at the foot of the cross? Although he, indeed, accompanies you in the valley, he also hangs there with arms wide open, awaiting you on the Mountain.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).