Good morning to you on this third week after Easter. Wintry weather has arrived for us who live in Melbourne. I hope you have been keeping warm and well. The excitement of Easter has now dissipated and for the most part, life has returned to normal with the Easter holidays over, schools back in session and for many, back again to the grind of daily work and responsibilities.
Today, as usual, I take delight to welcome you as we pause for a few minutes together to pray, listen and reflect on God’s Word and its meaning for us in our daily lives.
Prayer of the Week
Third Sunday of Easter
Gracious Father, who in your great mercy made glad the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord: give us such awareness of his presence with us that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life, and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Bible Reading for today is taken from Psalm 119:97-105
97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
98 Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.
102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore, I hate every wrong path.
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Falling Off the Mountain Cliff
I come from the Land Below the Wind. It is at the north of the third largest island in the world. It is the home of an ancient rainforest that is 130 million years old. The tribes there were headhunters till about a hunded years ago. We are the home of the last of the wild Orangutans. You might have guessed it by now. It is the land once called British North Borneo and today called Sabah which forms part of the Federation of Malaysia.
Sabah is a land of beauty and nature. We have the pristine beaches, one of the best diving spots in the world, the enchanting jungles, the mystical tribes with their smoked skulls still hanging from the beams in their longhouses. Sabah also has the highest mountain in South East Asia, standing at 4,095 meters. It is third highest peak of an island on earth and the 20th most prominent mountain in the world by topographic prominence.
Climbing Mount Kinabalu is a two-day affair. One starts off early in the morning from the Kinabalu National Park located at about 1,800 meters. If you are fit enough, you will reach the Paya Laban hut at 3,350 meters by mid-afternoon where you will rest and spend the night. At this height, the vegetation is sparse and stunted. Nothing much grows above this height and the climb from now on becomes so steep in some sections that ropes have to be tied on the rock faces to enable climbers to forge upwards.
Everyone is woken up at 3.00 am the next morning to climb the last 745 meters to the summit in time to watch the sunrise. This part of the climb is the hardest because it is dark, steep and freezing cold. Most of all, the air is so thin that everyone struggles to breath and can only take a few steps before stopping to rest. It is not unusual for some climbers to catch mountain sickness at this stage and turn back down the mountain.
I went on a climb as a teenager. The climb was uneventful till just before dawn. The cold wind blasted us with it eerie howl as we struggle to put one foot forward at a time while gasping for more of the thin cold air. While our muscles begged for rest to ease its pain, our lungs scream for more air – all the while trying to keep in pace with the official guide who was leading us.
As he led us forward in the darkness, we soon discovered that the path we were using for our climb became narrower and narrower. We were somehow drifting further and further from the other groups who were climbing with us.
Fortunately, the guide realized his mistake and led us back to the right climbing path. He had inevitably led us on a wrong path because he was trying to conserve his batteries by only turning on his torch intermittently. Little did we know that our group came close to a terrible disaster of falling off the mountain cliff. It was on our way down after we reached the summit when the sunlight revealed that the drop from the side of the mountain we had been climbing on, was more than 300 meters. No one could have survived a fall of that height.
Psalm 119 is very apt here. The Psalmist said he loved God’s law because it makes him wiser than his enemies and gives him more insights than all his teachers and more understanding than the elders. God’s laws are sweeter than honey thus he meditates on it day and night. In obeying it, he is kept from every evil path. God’s word to him is a lamp for his feet, a light on his path.
As we navigate through the unpredictable times we live in, how much more do we need God’s Word to shine on our path and guide our footsteps. Dangers are all around us. Please do not be like the mountain guide who only turn on his torch intermittently, rather may we be like the Psalmist who let God’s Word to constantly shine on his footsteps as a lamp and directs his pathway as a light. Are you letting God’s Word to light your path in life? Is God’s Word directing your daily steps? If you do, you will never fall off the mountain cliff of life.
The Morning Collect
Almighty God, you have conquered death through your dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant us by your grace to set our mind on things above, so that by your continual help our whole life may be transformed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit in everlasting glory. Amen.
May God the Father prepare your journey,
Jesus the Son guide your footsteps,
The Spirit of Life strengthen your body,
The Three in One watch over you,
on every road that you may follow.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Thank you for our time together. Looking forward to be with you again next week. In the meantime, do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Praise God. Amen. Goodbye.
 A Diary of Private Prayer, Baillie, John; Oxford University Press, 1936. (Day 29)