Meeting with God on mountains is a familiar theme in the Bible. Moses does so, very famously, on Mount Sinai where he is given the Law of the Ten Commandments. God is teaching His people how to live in freedom and community. They have been used to generations of slavery, and so they just don’t know how. By the way, Moses also encountered God in the burning bush on a mountain.
Then Jesus meets with Elijah and Moses on a mountain, in the presence of the disciples, at the Transfiguration in Matthew’s gospel.
And there are countless other mountain-top encounters. Abraham when he is asked to sacrifice Isaac. Elijah encountering God in the stillness, after the wind, fire, and earthquake, having called down the fire of the living God to defeat the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. God’s temple is built on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Jesus’ last night before his arrest was on the Mount of Olives. Some of Jesus’ most famous teaching was the Sermon on the Mount. He feeds the five thousand on another mountain. The list goes on.
For many, there is an internalised expectation that we have to come away to a deserted place to meet with God. That takes time, and money. And for some people, those two commodities are in short supply. The busy parent, working all the hours they can, just to keep things afloat, only to return to all the housework and childcare. Taking large chunks of time to go away alone, to travel to the mountaintop to encounter God, is plainly impractical.
Have you noticed, it tends to be men that are called away to the mountaintops for those encounters? Men are the ones who have to travel, to struggle physically to get to the place to hear God. To take the time away from all their other priorities and distractions. And whilst we may live in a more equal world in terms of shared labour in the home and with children, Covid showed us just how close we still are to the patriarchal values of our long-gone ancestors!
Perhaps that’s why so many of God’s encounters with women are in their homes, including some of the most famous moments of the Bible. God comes to them, because He knows they cannot come to Him on the mountain. God comes to the Blessed Virgin Mary via the Angel Gabriel. God comes to Abraham and Sarah, to tell them they will have a son. Jesus comes to Mary and Martha, teaching in their home. Jesus comes to the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus comes first to Mary Magdalene after his Resurrection.
God encounters women – and those trapped by their responsibilities – in the mundane and the ordinary tasks and places of life. He knows where we are, and the burdens we carry. And He speaks to us just as clearly over a boiling kettle or a kitchen sink as he does on the mountain top.
God isn’t only out there. He’s in here. In our homes. In our daily tasks. In our hearts. And in our every breath, as we breathe in His blessing, and breathe out our gratitude and love for Him. For this is the God who so loved the world, that He sent His only Son…