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Expedition four: Moving mountains

Nepalese people amidst rubble

Route plan

Read Luke 22:39-46.

Ascent reflection

'He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him.' (Luke 22:39)

Jesus often went to the mountains. In several places in Luke we read that Jesus even spent nights in the mountains praying, and Luke 21:37 describes how he would spend his nights on the Mount of Olives.

He went to the mountains to pray. We read here in Luke 22 the prayer of a son to his Father, a prayer on the threshold of intense suffering. It is an intimate and heart-rending prayer to overhear - it is little wonder the disciples were already weary with grief. 

We also read of David weeping as he ascends the Mount of Olives, many years before. He walks up the mountain barefoot with his head covered in sorrow. He is lamenting his betrayal into the hands of his son (2 Samuel 15:30).

Mountains shadow so many episodes of human history.

Several comments were made about the age of the mountains as we ascended Bla Bheinn on Skye on Easter Monday.

From this tenth Munro of the challenge we took in the magnificence of the Cuillins, and were drawn to observe how old and incredible are these volcanic mountains, shaped by ice.

They seemed so ancient and we so young and temporary on the ridge.

Some of the youngest mountains in the world are found in Nepal. These are also the highest, and they are getting higher every year. The Indian tectonic plate continues to push five centimetres north a year, coming up against the Eurasian plate.

This is incredible and wonderful but for the people who live in their shadow, it is tragic. This week their lives have literally been shunted towards despair.

The mountains have become a place of prayer and grief as we witness the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal, which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale. Some eight million people have been affected in a country that ranks 145 out of the 187 countries on the United Nations' Human Development Index.

The death toll seems to rise with each refresh of the news webpages, while the front cover of one of the national papers has boldly asked us to 'pray for Nepal'. And so we do, and will.

As we walk further Munros this weekend and ascend our own highest mountain, Ben Nevis, we will pray. We will carry a Nepalese flag with us and pray that the rescue and relief efforts will reach all who need them.

And we will pray, knowing that it is to the God of all comfort that we pray - to the one who loved the mountains, who knelt and wept with much anguish on the side of a mountain. The one who knows so much more of the cup of human suffering than we dare imagine.

A God that is not distant to human suffering, but who fully enters in. And, of course, these are not prayers one needs to walk a Munro or a mountain to pray.

Summit prayer

God of all comfort,
We pray for those made destitute by the earthquake in Nepal,
for those who in seconds lost all they held dear.
We pray they would be held now in their grief.

We pray for those who are trapped or searching in rubble.
We pray for calm to quieten unimaginable fear
We pray for strength to sustain hope.

We pray for resurrection to be at work
through the international response and the agencies on the ground
We pray for life-giving rescue and long-lasting restoration.

God of all comfort,
who knows what it is to drink deep from the cup of human suffering,
be present to all who need you now in Nepal,
Amen.

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Mountaintop experiences

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We climbed 70 Munros between February and October 2015.

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70 Munros

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