The Upper Room Disciplines is a best-selling book of daily devotions published annually by Upper Room Books. Each week’s readings are reflections on scripture passages from the lectionary for that period. On Mondays the first reading for the week will be posted. We’d love to hear what you think about the week’s readings and prayers. Just sign in and add your comment in the Comments section following this post.
Travis Tamerius is the university chaplain at William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri, and director of The Center for Ethics and Global Studies.
Read Exodus 24:12-18
On April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. addressed a packed church in Memphis, Tennessee, attempting to awaken the conscience of a nation. He eloquently described the history of the struggle for civil rights in America and the difficult days that lay ahead. Nearing the end of his sermon, King reached a crescendo when he said, “I’ve been to the mountaintop.” Those simple words were greeted with a thunderous response from the congregants. They knew the reference to Moses. They knew the ancient story of liberation. And they knew of their own restless yearning for freedom and equality.
King concluded his message with hope, saying, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Those would be his last public words. The following day, King was shot dead outside of the Lorraine Motel.
Today’s reading returns us to the Exodus story that nourished King and provided inspiration for the civil rights movement. God has summoned Moses to the mountaintop for one more glimpse of divine glory. The nation of Israel has left the
oppressive, but familiar, land of Egypt and is venturing toward an unknown land of promise. In between the agony they once knew and the glory that awaits them is a wilderness experience that will test their faith. The desert will become God’s pathway to the promise.
When life grew hard during Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness, I suspect that Moses frequently recalled his mountaintop experience on Sinai. A mountaintop gives perspective. The panoramic view provides a larger landscape for our vision.
What inspires you when you find yourself lost in a spiritual desert? What sustains you during difficult days and long nights of struggle? Call to mind where you once caught sight of God’s presence. And look in faith to the future of God’s glory.
God of fire and of cloud, grant us a vision of your abiding presence
and give us strength for today. Amen.