Transfiguration: Mountain Top Places

Photo Credit: Chris Frailey

I believe that we, humans, have landmarks that let us know when we have come home. Landmarks that begin the process of renewing and recharging our souls. For me, it is the Superstition Mountains in Arizona.

On a website, it said that these (Superstition Mountains) were the most photographed part of Arizona second to the Grand Canyon. They’re beautiful and they are appropriately named. There are many stories and experiences within the Superstitions that many would call paranormal, supernatural, mystical, or unexplained.

Photo Credit:

I think mountains in general, as we see in scripture, have a mystic and awe-inspiring nature to them.

In our Exodus text, Moses goes up the mountain to intimately communion with God. He is up in the mountains, enclosed by clouds for 40 days and 40 nights. The Israelites become concerned and fearful.

Then, we have our gospel text for the day but I want to place this in scripture a little. Christ had shared with the disciples his mission as the Messiah. Christ had shared that he would be arrested, go through the Passion, be crucified and die. Peter pulled him aside and said ‘Messiah, I know that is what you are but that is not how the story goes and you do not deserve such treatment.’ Christ says “Get behind me Satan!”. I have heard people refer to this has really  Peter’s first denial. I think it is more Peter’s lack of understanding.

So, Christ takes Peter, James, and John up the mountain and Christ is transfigured, metamorphosed,  changed. Christ becomes dazzling white and brighter than the sun. Peter sees that Christ is in conversation with Elijah and Moses, not knowing what else to say, he asks if Christ would like him to build a dwelling, a tent, a tabernacle, a temple to Christ, Elijah, and Moses in that place. A voice comes from heaven and echoes the same words we heard at the Baptism (of Christ) at the beginning of [the time after] Epiphany; “this is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well-pleaded”.

It is no wonder that when we talk about those moments when we feel most spiritually connected to the divine, more in the intimate presence of God, as “mountain top moments”.

Lutherans, in general, don’t talk  about mountain top moments. I played a song called “Christ has Friends in Low Places“, which is a take on [Garth Brooks’] “Friends in Low Places”, its done by Charles Franks Kurtz. He notes that we are ‘not big on mountain top places’ but he refers that Christ ‘has friends in low places’ where the wine and bread of communion and the water of Baptism ‘chases ours sins away and we’ll be ok’.

We all have intimate moments with God. We all must come down from those mountain top moments to share it with other friends in low places, like we are. The question is how do we recognize them? and how do we share them?

My prayer is that this next week we take the time to ponder those moments and to consider how to share them with one another. Amen.

The scriptures were Exodus 24: 12-18 and Matthew 17: 1-9.
The sermon was originally preached on 26 Feb. 2017.


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