I have got mountains on my mind tonight.  This is not said to moan about all the things that I have to do, but the real thing.  I suppose it has been brought on by tomorrow’s Gospel reading from Mark 9, were we read the  account of Jesus’ transfiguration.  Normally mountains are not much in the conversation in our area, which is as flat as my pancakes will be on Tuesday.  Some comedian in the past gave the name “England’s Hill” to the slight rise and fall in the road just outside of our town, but I think he was overdoing it a bit.  Having prepared a Power Point Presentation for the worship I am leading on Sunday, I choose at random a photograph of a mountain for one of the slides.  When I went through the Presentation with the gentleman who will be doing the projection, he looked closely at this particular slide and said, “I have climbed that”.  Until then I didn’t even know which mountain it was.

It was on May 29th 1953 that Hilary and Tensing reached the summit of Everest.  Many other unsuccessful climbs had been attempted before, often resulting in fatalities.  The succesful climb by Hilary and Tensing was also a close call.  When they got to the top their oxygen supplies were running very low and they could only stay for fifteen minutes on the summit.  The photographs that they took in that brief stay are familiar to most of us. 

A less well-known fact is that Tensing who was a Buddhist, buried some sweets and biscuits on the summit as an offering to his gods.

When does a hill become a mountain?  Now you would think that would be easy to answer, but no such luck.  It seems to be all in the ‘Eye of the Beholder’.  Hill walkers have tended to regard mountains as peaks that are over 2,000 ft, while historically, geographers regard mountains as hills greater than 1,000 ft. above sea level.  Whatever the correct definition they are in my mind , one way very much UP and when you turn round very much DOWN.  This man I think needs to get a pair of climbing boots!  In 1995 there was a film released with the title “The Englishman Who Went up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain”.  It could only have been an Englishman!

Biblical mountains abound.  The one in this Sunday’s lectionary reading is the subject of debate as to its name.  Traditionally it is referred to as Mt. Tabor, but that mountain is not in the right geographical location in relation to the place where Jesus and his disciples were at that time.  Mt. Hermon seems to be a more likely candidate, as it is situated in the northern part of Gallile,much closer to caesarea Philippi. It is also not so puny.  Tabor might in those days have been regarded as a gentle Sunday afternoon stroll, whereas Hermon is a more challenging proposition.

My favourite mountain though is Mt. Carmel.  This is where the very first “Match of the Day” was recorded.  The contest was in the Issy League between the Elijah Wanderers and the Baal Beafeaters.  Ground conditions during the match were at times somewhat soggy under foot, but that did not deter either side, who engaged in a truly memorable encounter.  First to kick off were the Baal Beafeaters. Passing the BULL neatly they impressed the purists yet failed to score.  In the second half  it was the Elijah Wanderers who gained the initiative, with their mascot performing heroically on the touch-line.  This resulted in a goal that has been declared the ‘Goal of the Century’.  After the match serious disorder broke out resulting in the death of many of the Baal Beafeaters supporters.  A certain lady by the name of Jezebel was not amused when she learned of the result.  No!  Andy Gray was not there to make any ‘off the air’ comments.

Ah well!, it is Saturday night.

John R.


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