Mountains and Boats
Last week Margaret asked us ‘What do you read?’ I am reading a book about the Parables by Paula Gooder. In the book Gooder points out that the gospels use settings to signal when a story is significant. Matthew uses mountains, Mark uses boats and Luke sometimes uses journeys. These signals help us to pay particular attention to what Jesus is about to say or do. Since I had never noticed this it clearly didn’t help me to spot what was most important! But now I have been told about this I keep seeing mountains and boats everywhere in gospels and not just before parables. Before the feeding of the 5000 Matthew tells us Jesus “withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself” (Matthew 14:13). In Mark’s account Jesus invited his disciples to do the same: “The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.” (Mark 6: 30-32)
Jesus frequently seemed to withdraw to hills or out on the Sea of Galilee in a boat to be with his Father, sometimes alone and sometimes with his disciples. Praying and being with God his Father was as much a part of Jesus’ ministry as telling stories and healing.
Living in St Albans it is quite hard to withdraw up a mountain or out on a boat. But if we are to take up Jesus’ invitation to be one with him and with his Father, just as he was, then we also need to find places to withdraw to spend time with him. Where is this for you? A room or corner in your house or garden, a place you go to walk, a special place you go for breaks or retreats? In my busy life I know I don’t spend enough time in such places, just being with God who loves us.
Help us to hear your invitation to come away and rest a while, finding strength in moments of solitude and sustenance in time with you.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.