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Being Transformed

March 3, 2019

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. (Luke 9:28)

This mountaintop experience transformed the disciples understanding of who Jesus was. Last April we finally hiked up Deer Mountain. As we got to the top, the view was breathtaking. Like so many vistas in our back yard (Rocky Mountain National Park), we often find ourselves simply in awe of the wonder and majesty of God’s creation. It is amazing to think that in the midst of such wonder and beauty that the Creator takes note of us as well as the creatures who live in the Park.

The tiny Pika who lives at higher elevations in the Rockies.

Rocky Mountain Mule Deer.

Mountain Chickadee.

Grey Squirrel.

Rocky Mountain Bull Elk.

Today is Transfiguration Sunday. We didn’t have church today due to the transformation of Estes Park into a Winter Wonderland with well over a foot of snow falling on top of ice.

Our back deck and trees next to the Condo.

When Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain with him to pray, I doubt that the three disciples had any idea what was about to happen. In fact, I wonder if Jesus himself knew what was about to transpire when they ascended the mountain that day. It sounds as though Peter, James, and John were in desperate need of a nap, but they were awake when Jesus was transfigured before their very eyes!

In Luke’s story, this happens soon after Jesus foretells his death and resurrection and asks the disciples to take up their cross and follow him. I can only imagine what was going through the minds and hearts of Jesus and the disciples as they chewed on that challenge.

The placement of the Transfiguration story on the last Sunday before Lent is intentional, even if it isn’t accurate in terms of a linear timeline. What is important is why it happened and how it may have impacted Jesus and the Disciples.

This event, I believe, was a gift from God to Jesus. The only other time we hear God speak to Jesus was at his baptism when God claimed Jesus as God’s own beloved child. On the mountain, as Jesus prays and contemplates what lies ahead on the road to Jerusalem and the Cross, God once more publicly claims Jesus with these words: This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him! (Luke 9:35)

In the Beatles song, Let it Be I hear words of comfort for me: When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom. Let it be.

God’s words of comfort come to us in many ways. I see this event as a gift of comfort and a reminder to Jesus. Just as Moses led the people out of slavery, into the wilderness, and eventually to the Promised Land; Jesus is leading God’s children into a new covenant. Unlike Elijah, who was swept into heaven on a chariot, thus avoiding death; Jesus would face a gruesome end in by being tortured and hung on the cross to suffer and die. Yet both of these heroes of the faith were there to reinforce both the importance of Jesus’s ministry and that he wasn’t alone.

It was also, a time to give the Disciples a wake-up call of sorts! God challenges them to listen to Jesus! The ministry they are a part of is serious work! And Jesus’s words about taking up a cross weren’t an allegory. Jesus meant them literally!

So how does this speak to us today? While I haven’t had the dazzling moment of transformation that Jesus did, I have experienced sacred moments where God has both challenged, comforted, and transformed me in my life and ministry. As we will soon begin the Lenten journey on Ash Wednesday, this reading challenges me to listen for the Spirit’s whisper in my own life and ministry. It also reinforces the fact that Ministry is not a job or a career, but rather is a calling and a vocation.

Will you join with me, dear reader, as this journey begins? Will you seek to encounter Lent as a season of transformation and prayer as we walk with Jesus towards the cross? Are we willing to follow where the Spirit leads us?

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