Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sunday - Feb. 14 - Happy Transfiguration Day!!!

Last week our Gospel story told us how Jesus had called Peter, James and John to be followers and disciples. At the end of that text we learn that they left their nets laying on the shore and followed Jesus. And if they thought they were now in for an easy time they were sadly mistaken. It had been a whirlwind. Following Jesus, doing crowd control, having long sessions into the night with Jesus, miracles, feeding the 5000 and then Jesus sends them off on a “trial run.” And so we now arrive at chapter 9 and Jesus selects these three to accompany him t the mountain to pray. Finally – a vacation – a break from the intensity!?! Nope. If that is what they were thinking they would be disappointed. First they have to climb to the top of the mountain and when they get there they are so exhausted they can’t keep their eyes open. (The exact same thing will happen in the Garden of Gethsemane.) And when they do awake what they see is beyond description. They catch a glimpse of God’s glory as Jesus is transfigured – his clothes dazzling white, his face shining (like Moses in the Old Testament lesson) and Jesus is talking about “his departure” (actually in Greek he is talking about “his exodus!”)

Throughout the Old Testament in particular the mountain is the special place where one can experience the presence and glory of God in a unique way. Moses encounters the burning bush and later receives the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai (also known as Mount Horeb). Elijah takes refuge on the same mountain and they encounters God as the “still small voice.” Jesus now climbs to the top of a mountain to pray and experiences God’s presence in a unique way. But this will be the last time. As Jesus and these disciples descend they will now begin the journey towards Jerusalem – towards crucifixion and resurrection. Now believers will encounter God in the cross of Jesus.

Do the disciples have any inkling of what is to come? Yes. Right before this episode of the Transfiguration Peter has made his confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus clearly explained that this means crucifixion and they are to pick up their cross and follow. They didn’t get it! And here on the mountain as they experience this moment of God’s glory they want to hold on to it as long as possible. Peter wants to put up tents so they can stay here forever. But it is not to be. Jesus has a journey to make and so do these disciples, and so do we. As much as we would like to hold on to certain moments we must move forward for we are on a journey as well. But because of the cross Jesus comes to us in the midst of our journey. We don’t have to climb mountains, Jesus comes to us here in the midst of our journey.

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