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Expedition ten: Psalm of Descent

Walkers descending a Munro

Route plan

Read Psalms 120-134.

Descent reflection

The Psalms of ascent were thought to be sung by the people of God as they journeyed to Jerusalem for festivals throughout the year. Jesus would have regularly sung the Psalms of ascent as part of his worship during pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover.

What now?

But, what of the descent? What do we sing after the mountaintop experience? Did this community of pilgrims have songs for the return journey as well? Getting to the summit is only half way; the descent is as hard on the knees, if not harder, than the ascent.

What do we do with the transformational mountaintop experience? 

Moses returned from the mountaintop with his face aglow (Exodus 34:29). Peter, James and John must have found it quite unbearable not to get to talk about the transfiguration immediately after coming down the mountain with Jesus (Matthew 17:9).

And what of those first listeners of the Sermon on the Mount? How were their lives changed as they followed Jesus down the mountain, after being astounded by what they heard? (Matthew 7:28-8:1)

The mountaintop changes us. 

Another Way

It has been our hope throughout the 70 Munros challenge that 'the wilderness experience of transcendence would fuel the struggle for true justice in the world' (Ched Myers) as we continue on past our current 70 years.

  • We have memories of struggle, and of the glorious mountaintop view.'

We have the memories of entering into the struggle to overcome, of walking in solidarity, and of sharing in the discomfort of the journey - all mild in comparison to the struggle and discomfort experienced by so many across the world who are marginalised or enduring conflict.

We also have the glorious memories of the mountaintop view, the vista of possibilities of how the world could be.

Just as the Psalms of ascent helped those first singers view themselves as people journeying together on their way home to God, so they may also help us to continue the journey towards another possible world.

They can inspire a Psalm of descent for the journey beyond 70 years, to Another Way.

Descent prayer

A Psalm of descent

From this time on and for evermore
we will lift our eyes to the way ahead -
our help comes from the Lord,
who keeps our feet from slipping and
without whom we will labour in vain.

From this time on and for evermore
we will cry to the Lord,
'deliver the distressed,
free the enslaved,
restore forgotten dreams,
fill mouths with laughter and
reap joy from many tears'.

From this time on and for evermore
we will wait for God,
watching for a new dawn,
uniting in his name,
hoping in his word,
quietened by her love and
walking in his ways.

From this time on and for evermore
we will declare that we are for peace.
To our brothers and sisters,
our partners, supporters and friends
we will say, 'peace be within you'.

May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth,
Bless you from Zion.
Amen.

Descent actions

  • Watch our Chief Executive, Loretta Minghella and our Chair, Dr Rowan Williams talk about how Christian Aid will face the future



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Mountaintop experiences

See all the steps of our online pilgrimage so far.

Walk with us

Read about the challenge

We climbed 70 Munros between February and October 2015.

Achievements

70 Munros

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