On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder.
This past weekend, our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrated the holiday of Shavuot, which has a dual meaning: it is both a celebration of the harvest and also a remembrance of the day when God appeared to Moses atop a mountain, in a strong thunder and smoke, and gave the Law, the scene in our devotion text.
I’ll admit, I’m not much of a mountain climber or hiker; I’m a tad afraid of heights and it was something I never thought I would be good at. However, during my semester abroad in the Holy Land, being surrounded with such natural mountainous beauty, my attitude shifted. In one of my first weeks in Israel, we took a two-day hike in the Golan Heights, on the border of Israel and Syria. I got to witness some of the most beautiful parts of God’s creation and even walk the trails near the Sea of Galilee. Every view, every step, was breathtaking. As Pastor Greg said in his sermon this weekend, it’s hard not to believe in a Creator God amidst all that beauty.
We hiked for 12 hours a day and we were dead tired after day one; all of us fell asleep in our large tent with such ease. Until in the night, when a storm blew through our camp, with a loud, thunderous roar and heavy rains. It was a little worrisome, but also awe inspiring, to be sleeping outside and to hear the thrashes of creation around us.
After reading the text this week, this memory immediately popped into my mind, as maybe Moses knew how I felt in that moment; to be on a mountain and to hear and feel God’s thunderous presence. Was he also tired from days of hiking? How did he comfort and console the worried group he was with? Was Moses also filled with a similar awe and worry? Did he know what was to come from his mountain top experience?
What finally jumped out to me in this text was the way in which God’s presence is made known. We read that God makes himself known through the power of creation, in the guiding, gentle voice of others, and in the ways we love and serve one another. And just as in this story of Moses, when we experience God’s enveloping presence, we are changed and are then called to something great, to love God and to love others.
Gracious and loving God, we give you thanks for the beauty of your creation and for the ability to be enveloped in its awesome nature. Remind us of your ever presence and continuous calling in our lives. Whether at times when we feel your presence like thunder or at times we barely notice, we trust you are there, guiding us along in light and in love. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Written by Dana Rademacher
Dana moved to Lincoln, NE a year and a half ago from Minneapolis, MN. She is on staff at Sheridan, working with digital media and at Sheridan’s ministry partner, Barnabas Community. This summer, Dana is getting married to her fiancé John and they will both start seminary at United Lutheran Seminary in the fall.