Sunday, March 6, 2011
Up on the Ridge
Six days after Peter had acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid." And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, "Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead." Matthew 17:1-9
Years ago, we lived in Colorado at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Often we would go for a drive up into the mountains, sometimes with no destination in mind. We would stop and go for a short walk or a hike and talk about life and show our oldest daughter the beauty of the mountains and the trees. From a high ridge, looking out over vast endless miles, one cannot help but be in awe of Creation. What amazing things God has done. The air is thin with each ensuing rise and sometimes the lack of oxygen and pressure can do strange things. Elevated, stunning beauty can bring new insight and great vistas as well as extraordinary challenges. We often were caught as the sun was setting, trying to get back to our ride, while the warm temperatures fled like spooked horses.
Jesus is preparing the disciples for his last journey to Jerusalem, to face the real threats and political intrigue that have plagued his ministry. God's son, with all of the gifts of spirit and love was pestered troubled and worn down at times by enemies and his followers alike. Faithfully serving God is never a cake walk - it is more like a perpendicular climb. And so he took a small group of disciples up the mountain with him as he restored his heart and mind for the coming days. The pillars of the faith Moses and Elijah- appear before them, talking with Jesus as a family member. They are too stunned to talk, to afraid to act, to worried that they all were loony in the thin air to do anything. And they said nothing about this to the others for a long time afterwords. It is terribly hard when God puts expectations on your life, clearly and visibly. It is harder still to explain the visions and transformation that can happen up on the ridge. And it takes time to know how to live in the aftermath.
Today, this rainy, dreary, early March Sunday is a time for reflection on the visions from the ridge. Sometimes we all need to remember God's call in our lives and we need time and space to know how to live into that call. We need some familial conversation and some prayer to walk the next road. So I ask God to give us all the time and the inclination to reflect on God's call and love in our lives and to help each of us find the path ahead, where ever God should lead us.