Friday, February 9, 2024

Reading: Mark 9: 2-9 NRSV

 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling bright, such as no one on earth could brighten them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us set up three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. 

About 30 years ago, I made a 10 mile hike up Mt. Emory in Big Bend. The view was breath taking and I was called to head back down to the desert floor way too soon. When I went to Israel, I noticed the terrain was the same. It is wondrous that you can climb up from the desert into a flourishing verdant place. Still, the term “mountain top experience” describes more than the view.

Today I celebrate a big birthday and it occurs to me that I have witnessed my share of mountaintop experiences!  For me, these are phenomenal moments when no one present can deny that God is with us. The events near impossible to fully explain to someone who wasn’t there. Even if we take a photograph, these moments are not fully captured, because they are felt as much as seen.

I believe the trio of disciples experienced the ultimate mountaintop experience!

Peter saw something holy was happening as Jesus’s appearance brightened. In the glorious glow of his transfiguration, with the heroes of his faith standing near, Peter was sure there was no better place to be. Awed by the experience, Peter wanted to stay! Truly, it was a moment worthy to be savored, but in a flash, awe gave way to fear and the why of it all seems to elude him.

Why did Elijah and Moses push past the veil of heaven to appear? Perhaps to encourage, affirm, strengthen, or even to console Jesus for what lay ahead? I wonder, because I know that my “mountaintop experiences” have sustained me through many of life’s valleys. Those holy mystery moments that broke through boldly proclaiming God’s presence have always overwhelmed me with surprising clarity, gently enfolded me in divine promise, and quickly faded out of sight, however, they have never left me!

I have drawn strength from them. They have steadied my steps, encouraging me to follow Christ and persevere through life’s storms. Above all, they have assured me that God’s love is ever present. Whatever challenges, losses, tragedies, disappointments or failures, whatever fires, or persecutions may assault along the way; the mountaintop experiences convinced me that I do not travel this journey alone!

Therefore, it is in this Pastor’s prayers that you too have or will enjoy many mountaintop experiences! I pray you know to the depths of your soul that God’s love is and will always be present. I pray that you will be assured that God’s love will carry you through and resurrection will happen! It’s a promise!!

Let us pray:

Loving Lord of All,

Sometimes when we travel a valley, we forget what it is like to stand on the mountain and witness your glory. We are so easily distracted. Our hearts break for many injustices and losses. We can be tempted to turn toward other things. We can lose our sense of your abiding presence and get lost in despair. Sometimes we become blind to your loving movement in our lives. Yet, your love never fails. Your faithfulness endures and you stay with us! You surround us in grace and restore all hope. In your mercy, open us to see you and savor the eternal embrace of your love. Amen

Much Love in Christ,

Rev. Vanessa LeVine

Pastor for Clinical and Regional Services at Methodist Healthcare Ministries and Clergy Member of Travis Park Church

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