A High and Lofty Mountain

June 17, 2018

Rev. Dr. Alan Baughcum

Day’s Ferry Congregational Church, Woolwich ME

Ezekiel 17:22-24, 2 Corinthians 5:6-17

What is tallest tree in the world?

The tallest trees in the world are redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), which tower above the ground in California. These trees can easily reach heights of 300 feet (91 meters).

Among the redwoods, a tree named Hyperion dwarfs them all. The tree was discovered in 2006, and is 379.7 feet (115.7 m) tall.

Other giant redwoods include Helios, which is just a shade smaller than Hyperion, at 374.3 feet (114.1 m), as well as Icarus (371.2 feet or 113.1 m) and Daedalus (363.4 feet or 110.8 m). The exact locations of many of these giants is kept secret to prevent vandalism.

A typical redwood lives for 500 to 700 years, although some have been documented at more than 2,000 years old.

The National Park Service says the redwoods’ great height is due, in part, to the favorable climatic conditions found in California, including mild year-round temperatures and heavy annual rainfall.

What is tallest mountain in the world?

Mt. Everest, which stands at 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) above sea level, undeniably has the “highest altitude” in the world. The distinction for the tallest mountain in the word, however, belongs to Mauna Kea which has an altitude of only 4,205 meters (13,796 feet).

The catch: it’s a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii which is about 19,700 feet below the Pacific Ocean. In other words, more than half of it is submerged. When you add everything together, Mauna Kea is over 10,000 meters tall or way taller than the 8,850 meters of Mount Everest – making it the “world’s tallest mountain.”

While Mauna Kea is essentially the world’s tallest mountain, it’s not the highest spot on Earth. Again, because the Earth is not a sphere, some places are naturally higher above the planet’s center at the equator. Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador — an inactive volcano located in the Andes — has an altitude of only 6,310 meters (20,703 feet), which makes it far shorter than Mt. Everest. It’s not even the highest above sea level in the Andes. However, because Chimborazo sits just one degree south of the equator, its apex rises the farthest, at about 21 million feet or 3,967 miles — making it the “world’s highest point from Earth’s center.” Everest, on the other hand, is 28 degrees north latitude, nearly one-third of the way to the pole and as far as peaks measured from Earth’s center go, Mt. Everest doesn’t even make it in the top 20.

Who is bigger than the tallest tree on the top of the tallest mountain in the world? GOD

No matter how high we go, no matter how far away from the earth’s center, no matter where we start our measurements …. there is no place to go where God is not …. God is everywhere, bigger than we can possibly imagine.

I have had a lot of problems with this sermon. And that is probably because I am ignorant about gardening and agriculture. Part of my problem was that I thought that we propagated trees by grafting cuttings onto the root stock of older trees. Apparently that is true for fruit tree but trees, I learned can be propagated by planting cuttings, whether from fruit trees or not. Quel surpris!

The tree in this instance is apparently to be a cedar tree.

But the instructions for propagating trees in this way include the advice to take several cuttings because not every cutting will take root. God does not do that! One twig …. that is it! One twig!

‘course when one is God, maybe the usual rules don’t apply!?

Then Ezekial says that the twig will be planted on the top of a high and lofty mountain.

“high and lofty!” Not talking about Bradbury Mountain or Morse Mountain here ….

The tops of high and lofty mountains are typically barren of trees, if not most vegetation altogether. I would assume that the combination of erosion of soil from wind and rain make growing trees very difficult at altitude …. that’s why we talk about the tree line … above that line, there are no trees. On Maine’s tallest mountain, Mt. Katahdin, the treeline is about 3800 feet. That is how I guessed that I made it to about 4000 feet on my failed attempt last summer …. I was just above the treeline.

The tallest mountain in Israel is Mt. Hermon, over 9000 feet tall, although the highest point under Israel’s control today is about 7000 feet. I do not know what the treeline there is.

So judging from Ezekial’s words, God will take a cutting from the top of the tallest tree and transport it to the top of Mt. Hermon for rooting. In the context of the rest of Chapter 17, God will accomplish this in the form of an eagle breaking off the top of the cedar tree and flying to the top of the mountain. Impressive!

The point of this exercise is that the new tree, when grown, will be the tallest thing in area. All the other trees/nations will have to look up to this tree, Israel restored from exile. All of God’s creatures will find shelter in the body and shade of this tree.

Ezekial could not have known that the tree God would plant on that mountain in Jerusalem

was, as Christians believe, Jesus, Son of God and Messiah. But God would have known.

Christians, looking back on that passage, know that the Temple restored by the exiles from Babylon and greatly expanded by Herod … that Temple did not last.

Jesus was crucified on a tree in Jerusalem. Jesus’ message that the Kingdom of God had come near in him seemed to have been buried. But it was not buried … it became the seed sowed by the disciples and those who followed … it became the great plant that shelters the weak and vulnerable and provides a nesting place, a resting place, for those who seek shelter.

Ezekial wrote that God planted the tree in Jerusalem so that it would produce boughs and bear fruit. And that is our job, we who inherited the church based on the message, on the seed.

We are to bear the fruits of the Kingdom of God.

And we are not to be dissuaded by what seems the seemingly huge and impossible job we face.

Hunger is not eternal … we can share the abundance of our agriculture with those who hunger and thirst … and we can teach ways for all to feed themselves. We do that here at DFCC with our gardens and with our giving to the Food Bank.

Illness and disease are not necessarily curses we must bear forever … we can use the reason God gave us and the support of God’s Spirit to sustain scientific research that can provide treatments and restore health to so many. We can and do support help for the injured and the sick through volunteer and paid professional work by DFCC members, and through our OCWM giving to the United Church of Christ.

Ignorance can be repaired … we can educate the mind, body, and spirit so that everyone can know about and participate in the fascination of God’s complicated and beautiful Creation.

It’s amazing how many people here at DFCC have devoted their lives to educating our youth.

The Congregational half of the United Church of Christ has distinguished itself with a history of starting and supporting many fine institutions of higher learning, including Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Williams, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Amherst, Carleton, Grinnell, Oberlin, Beloit, and Pomona.

Our Evangelical & Reformed half of the UCC founded Lancaster Theological Seminary,

Franklin and Marshall College, Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, Elmhurst College in Illinois,

Eden Theological Seminary in Missouri, Heidelberg College in Ohio, and the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

War, violence, and oppression are not all-powerful and everlasting … we must work for the peace and justice of God … peace and justice that is so satisfying, restorative and ubiquitous that there will be no ground left to grow implements of violence, torture, and imprisonment.

All of us can give and support those who work for peace in the world.Part of our support for that work also comes through our OCWM giving to our larger denomination.

With what can we compare the Kingdom of God? With a single cedar sprig selected, cut, and planted by God on the top of a mountain …

With what can we compare the Kingdom of God? With a seed planted in a field … sprouting and producing an abundant harvest for the poor and the hungry.

With what can we compare the Kingdom of God? With the church of Jesus Christ universal working hard on missions and ministries throughout the world …. and with the local church, Day’s Ferry Congregational Church, having an absolute blast working on the missions and ministries given us by God’s inspiration! Amen.