The photo shows Scafell and Scafell Pike, taken from the beginning of the magnificent ridge walk between The Old Man of Coniston and Wetherlam. As you can see the panorama was fantastic and was well worth the climb. This Sunday we finally reach the summit of the liturgical year as we celebrate Christ the King. Within the church our challenging twelve month long trek through Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary is almost over. Back down at the foot of the mountain Advent Sunday beckons (December 2nd), so for a brief moment we can pause to get our breath back, take in the stupendous view and reflect upon the way we have come.
The accompanying gospel reading from Luke is The Benedictus. Here the confidence of this view from mountain top is recast from present joy to future hope: By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. These beautiful words are amongst my favourites in the whole of the Bible. There is a promise here which means much when the way ahead is uncertain, messy and difficult, when the summit is shrouded by dark clouds and seems an impossibly long way off. This confident promise takes us through to Advent Sunday, when the climb begins again. It is like the first cairn marking the start of the the ascent; a small pile of stones left by those who have travelled this way before. It is appropriate, then, that our journey through RCL Year A begins with these words: Isaiah 2:3 Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.