Transfiguration and Mountain Top Moments
Bible Reading: Luke 9:28-36
The story we just heard takes place on a mountain. Some of you might know that our theme tonight is mountains. Let’s talk about what is so specials about mountains.
In the bible, mountains tend to be places of significance. Wonderful, mysterious and life changing events happen on mountain tops.
We obviously have today’s story where two figures appear next to Jesus, where Jesus glows with a bright light, and where God speaks through clouds.
But this isn’t the only amazing mountain story in the bible.
The two figures that appear next to Jesus are named Moses and Elijah. At this point both have been gone from earth from a long, long time. We read the stories about them in the Old Testament. The part of the bible before Jesus.
Back to the point. These two people appear, and both of them also have their own significant mountain stories.
Moses frees the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and they are wander through the dessert. They stop at the bottom of a mountain. Moses climbs that mountain, and there he speaks with God. God makes a covenant, an agreement with Moses and gives Moses the 10 commandments, rules for him and Israelites to live by.
In Elijah’s story he is running away; he is scared for his life. God then leads him to the top of mountain. Where he experiences big loud winds, roaring fire, and even an earthquake. Then in a gentle whisper he hears God speak to him. In this whisper God directs Elijah to stop hiding and sends him on his next task.
Big experiences of God happen on mountain tops.
It’s probably why in faith circles we sometimes talk about Mountain Top moments. Who has heard of that term before? Mountain Top moments.
It is often a time or moment when someone has had an experience of God. A time when they have felt a closeness or connection to God. A moment when they might have heard from God, audibly or inside their heart. A time when they have felt some clarity around God, their faith and their belief.
These Mountain Top moments are often experienced at camps, or retreats. But not always.
I don’t think mountain tops are just limited to faith experiences, and experiences of God. I think they can be times in our live when we have felt really close or connected to another person, or a group of people. They can be moments when we have felt close or connected to nature. Moments when we have felt some clarity about the world or ourselves.
I think about things like a wedding, or a party or a deep meaningful conversation with someone. A walk-through nature or a swim in the ocean. Or even reading a book, listening to a song, listening to a podcast or a talk.
Whether it’s a mountain top moments connected to our faith or another part of life, mountain tops are significant.
And not just in the moment we experience them.
The thing about mountain tops moments is that they change us, they grow us, they transform us.
On the mountain top Jesus experiences a life changing moment. When we look at the bigger picture of where this story comes in the bible. This is a transition point in Jesus’ ministry. This mountain top is when his focus starts to shift, when we begins talking about and journey towards his death.
When Moses goes up the mountain top it is a life changing moment for Moses and the Israelites. They have this new covenant, a new agreement God, and a new way to live.
Elijah also has a life changing moment on that mountain top. He goes from being consumed by fear to being given new direction.
There is other person who had a life changing moment on the mountain. Jesus’ follower Peter. Now he expects a big moment on this mountain. But maybe not the life changing moment that actually happens. Peters climbs the mountain full of concern and worry about Jesus and the death he keeps talking about. But he comes down with what feels like to me a different sort of trust and understanding of who Jesus is.
All of these stories highlight something to us about Mountain Top moments. That they are life changing, but also that they are just supposed to be moments.
Peter talks about how the top of the mountain is so wonderful, and asks to stay longer. Seems pretty reasonable. But if mountain top moments are LIFE changing, we have to get back to LIFE at some point. Because while mountain moments can change our lives, they aren’t life.
This can be really hard sometimes.
Being on the mountain top can feels amazing, it’s a high. But we have to come down at some point. Some people then feel energized and ready to change their life. While others end up feeling deflated, lonely and lost. We can feel like this too if it’s been a long time since we have experienced a mountain top moment. Or the mountain top doesn’t feel like it used to.
Even when we leave the mountain top, we take something of the mountain with us.
We take the memories.
We take a trust that if we were there once, we can be there again.
We take the things we have learnt about ourselves, about the world, about God.
And we take the ways we have been changed by the mountain.
Mountain tops are special and significant.
But we can’t live there all the time. And it’s not going to feel the same every time.
Our life and our faith are a journey. Full of mountain tops and mountain bottoms. But just like when Peter asks Jesus in our story “Will you stay with me?” Jesus responds to him, and to us “Always”.
Regardless of where we are on the mountain.
You don’t have to make it to all the stations, you can just do a couple if you want. Some are quiet and reflective, and some are a bit more energetic.
If you’re doing these stations at home, consider putting some music on in the background. You might like slow and reflective, or something more upbeat. You could even try out Evenings @ The Corner Playlist on Spotify embedded on the right >
Click on the name of the prayer station in the list below to access the full reflection