Last Sunday here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church we concluded our series on the “Conundrums of Corinth” with a sermon about “The Temple of You.”
This coming Sunday in the Christian calendar is “Transfiguration Sunday”. We recall the day Jesus went up a mountain with His disciples. While they were in prayer a most unusual occurrence takes place. (You can read it in Matthew 17:1-9.) The mountaintop becomes bathed in heavenly light and Jesus is observed speaking with two of the Old Testaments great characters, Moses (who represented the 'Law') and Elijah (who represented the 'prophets'). Earlier in His ministry Jesus had told His disciples; "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Just for a moment, the disciples are given an astonishing glimpse into the truth of His words.
It is but for a fleeting moment. No sooner had they witnessed this strange happening than it all became dark again and a voice is heard proclaiming "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!" So terrifying is the experience that the disciples hit the deck! We read “They fell face down to the ground, terrified.” So there they lie. Until Jesus, (as though offering a bit of comic relief), taps them on the shoulder, and says, "Get up," … "Don't be afraid."
This moment was important for Jesus. God speaks words that were last heard at His baptism. Jesus is about to head down the mountain and stride towards Jerusalem where He would face the darkest days of His ministry that culminate in a Cross where He gives Himself for the salvation of the world.
For the disciples, this was also a much needed boost of their confidence in Jesus. Particularly for Peter. Just prior to this happening, Peter had made his confession of Christ as being the 'Son of God', and had been informed that it was upon the rock-like faith of his confession that the church would be built.
But Peter still had a lot to learn. When Jesus began explaining how they would go up to Jerusalem and He would be betrayed and murdered...yet would be raised again from the dead, Peter had contradicted Jesus and said that such a thing would never be allowed to happen. Jesus has spoken to Peter harshly...“Get thee behind me Satan!” So Peter was full of questions. “Who am I? The good guy or the bad guy? What does Jesus really want from me?” Hearing that voice declaring; “This is my Son, Listen to Him!” was a mountain top experience he would never forget.
This Sunday we say a reluctant farewell to our energetic youth minister, Evan Stewart. We lift up Evan, Heather and Gabe in our prayers as they transition to new opportunities. Some of the youth he has ministered to will be taking part in our service. Having spoken to many of them, I know Evan created many opportunities, through trips, mission opportunities and weekly Sunday evening sessions, for them to hear for themselves the voice of God and discern what God is asking of them. We thank Evan for his work.
Young or old, we all need mountain-top moments. We all need to take time to see the larger picture. We all need those times when we can allow God to speak God's vision to our hearts. That's why gathering for worship and spending time in bible study and prayer is so important. The one voice we often shut out, is often the one we most need to hear! Every service of worship, every time of prayer, can be a mountain top experience when we sense that God is with us.
Here's a great worship song “Mountaintop” by The City Harmonic. Transfiguration Sunday blessings to you, wherever you may be!
Rev. Adrian Pratt B.D.