Ascending and Descending from the Mountains

Transfiguration- Ms. Kayla Aspeslagh

Transforming God, stir our hearts and minds and let these words be yours. Amen.

Mount Tabor is the site said to be the location of the Transfiguration of Jesus. While I have never been there, this Colorado girl is all about the mountains and their magnificence. Mountains are particular and poignant. They rise up from the plains of our lives to invite majesty and awe; wonder and fear; to call to mind the heights of the heavens and yet the reality of the valleys below. Mountains have a way of disrupting you. They change your framework, your way of seeing the world. Mountains don’t lie. Mountaintops provide moments for seeing reality and not making up theology. That mountaintops create spaces for perspective instead of justifying preconceived perceptions. That mountaintops truly change your way of interpreting or making sense of the world.  When I think of this change, this transformation I cannot help but think of church camp both growing up and accompanying youth.  At camp in CO you are in the mountains, away from home, from distractions, you don’t have phone service or the internet.  At camp you are invited into community to worship, play, learn, explore, and let us not forget the enormous amounts of fun.  In this mountaintop experience I have seen over and over and over again not just youth, but people from all ages being transformed, being freed to live in their fullness and live into their faith.  But, like all things, camp comes to an end and one must travel back down the mountain, back to the distractions, the valley, the hard stuff, and it is hard to be that faithful mountaintop camper. Like in Luke, the mountaintop experience is interrupted by the urgency of reality.

Friends, this past week has absolutely drawn us from the mountain top and into the urgency of reality.  Globally we see Ukraine being attacked, people being displaced and being killed. Nationally we see queer and trans kids being told they are not worthy to be seen in their fullness or told they are beloved just the way they were created. In our homes and communities we are about to pass the two year mark of the pandemic which has impacted all in a myriad of ways. We also hold the hurt, grief, and more with things happening in our own lives and those around us.  It is a heavy, hard, and possibly reality. And we are not alone, God is in it with us, reveling their-self to us, and inviting us into greatness, greatness that is not bought by the force of arms or bluster or bloodshed, but reveled in prayer, the witness of scriptures, and going down the mountain to help and heal. It isn’t always easy to go back down.

I think of the disciples terror in the cloud. We know it will be a place of revelation, but suddenly it swallows them and they are terrified. Same as when a storm hit their boat. The cloud. The uncertainty. The fog of war. Families of trans and queer children terrified for their safety. And in the midst of that dreadful cloud, God speaks and points to Jesus, who points them to their suffering neighbor, with whom Jesus identifies. Jesus is revealed in his devil butt kicking boots and his gates of hell smasher that would give Thor a run for his money, and then the disciples are told “Oy! Pay attention!” God is bigger than this stupid mixed up world and has a plan to redeem it. God does redeem it and God’s glory is reveled. This revelation doesn’t happen just on a mountaintop or in the suffering on the cross and resurrection, but happens each and every day.  Where have you seen God’s glory revealed this week?  Perhaps it was in the Russians protesting the attack on Ukraine, people welcoming the refugee, parent’s and loved ones comforting their queer and trans kids saying you ARE beloved, a friend’s phone call to check in, the hungry being fed, the sick being visited and prayed with and for… Take a moment to share with a neighbor where you have seen God’s glory revealed this week.

Our text today reminds us that the glory of God is only possible if lived together, in community. Nobody, not even Jesus, could shine alone! The work of that trinity shows that only when we are together that God’s radiance can light each other’s lives. Also, we can only make sense of ourselves if the people who came before us are presence in our struggle. Our ancestors come to us to give us a thick sense of the present and to say that they survived under the name of God and we can do that too. Glory is only possible if shared and that means that we are to share the light of Christ to the world, especially those placed in the shadows of our society. When we light the lives of those placed in the shadows of society, we must know that it is from those shadows, from those clouds that the voice of God appears, affirming Jesus! 

Friends, I invite you to pick up at BCP near you and turn to page 304. (Give folks a chance to do this).  This the the rite of Baptism.  In baptism we are named, claimed, and told by God “you are my beloved”.  We are also called into the mission of Christ as these are promises made in our baptism by parents/godparents on our behalf, and we later affirm in our confirmation. Much like this transfiguration directs Jesus back into his mission. Our baptism and these promises are part of our transformation, part of our calling back into to our mission as disciples. While the disciples wanted to hang out there amidst those giants of faith and basking in the glory and transfiguration of Jesus, they were demanded to go back to their lives. However, in between the transfiguration and the noisy streets of our lives, we keep in silence trying to figure out the transfigured Jesus, knowing that we are part of this transfiguration and that means that God will refigure our lives, our thinking, our actions our path. When we meet the transfigured Jesus we too are transfigured and God’s glory is revealed.

Beloved, let us go out into the world in the name of God who invites us to be transformed and not conformed to this world. Who transcends time, space, materiality, power, greed, and gender. God who transforms our hearts of stone, and who transfigures their own face to reveal the glory of God. Amen!