Holy Great Smokies

A call to worship recalling the mountain sites of covenant and confrontation in Scripture

by Ken Sehested

Call to Worship

Come to the place where horizons expand, and the gulf between earth and sky shrinks. Here covenants unfold and confrontations are staged.

It was at Mt. Ararat that Noah’s ark rested on dry ground as flood waters receded. From Egyptian bondage, the Hebrews came to Mt. Sinai where their adoption by God was sealed and commandments were set.

      On Mount Carmel the prophet Elijah confronted
            the false prophets of Baal.
      At Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal Joshua instructed
            the people in the Law of Moses.
      At Mount Nebo God brought water out of the rock
            to relieve the people’s thirst.    
      It was on Mount Zion that David constructed the
            temple as the center of praise and worship.
      Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount outlined the vision
            for the new people of God.
      It was on the Mount of Olives that Jesus prayed
            through the night before his crucifixion on
                  a hill named Golgotha.

Blessed by the Lord come the choice gifts of heaven, with the finest produce of the ancient mountains, and the favor of the One who sprinkles dew on Hermon and nestles among the pines on Tabor.

Your righteousness o’ershadows the Rockies, your justice towers over Katahdin. Peak calls to peak in your Wake and echoes back again.

Great are you, O God, and greatly to be praised. Your holy Great Smokies are the joy of all the earth. Break forth in singing, you Sierra Madres, you forests and every wild flower. For the Blessed One unveils you.

Blow the trumpet on every Appalachian ridge; sound the alarm on Mount Ranier! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming.

In the abundance of your trade, says our God, you were filled with violence, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from my beloved Cumberlands.

Like blackness spread upon the Peabody Coal’s sheared mountain tops, a great and powerful army comes. Fire devours in their wake, and behind them a flame burns.

Before them the land is like the Garden of Eden, but after them a desolate wilderness.

Come, let us go up to Grandfather Mountain. There the Beloved will teach us the ways of righteousness that we may walk on the path of mercy.

Assurance of pardon

      We cry aloud to you, O Lord.
      Answer us from your Olympic Mountains.
      Send out your Light and your Truth;
            bring us to your dwelling in the Wichitas.

Whoever takes refuge in God shall possess the land and inherit God’s awesome Ozarks.

For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the Bitterroots and the Black Hills shall burst into song, and all the trees on Stone Mountain shall clap their hands.

On that day you shall not be put to shame and you shall no longer be haughty in God’s blessed Berkshires.


In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established higher than Dinali; all the nations shall stream to its crags.

The Allegheny Mountains skipped like rams, and the Grand Tetons, like lambs. May the Adirondacks yield prosperity for the people; and the Davis Mountains, thy graciousness.

They will not hurt or destroy on my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

On the Sangre de Cristos the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a ballroom feast, a warehouse of well-aged wines. God will move among West Virginia’s blast-scarred hills, removing rubble from each hollow and restoring every shattered-scattered crest.

The time is coming, says the Lord, when Matterhorn Peak shall drip sweet wine and the New Mexican mesas shall flow with it.

Death shall be swallowed up forever in the Kilauea’s fiery depths. Then the Tender of Days will wipe away every tear, and all disgrace will be taken away.

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In many ancient cultures, mountains were sacred places. Scripture’s story of the ancient Hebrew people is punctuated with holy encounters upon mountains. This liturgy was written for worship following the arrest of a member of our congregation after his civil disobedience action protesting mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia. Textual inspiration came from: Deut 33:12–16; Ps 36:6; Ps 48:1; Ps 133:3; Isa 44:23; Ezek 28:16; Joel 2:1–3; Mic 4:1-2; Ps 3:4–8; Ps 43:1–5; Isa 57:13; Isa 55:12; Zeph 3:11; Isa 2:1–5; Ps 114:4; Ps 72: 3; Isa 11:9; Isa 25:6–8; Amos 9:13.

©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org