Jesus takes three disciples, Peter, James, and John, up a mountain. Jesus begins to pray, but the disciples need a nap; they almost fall asleep. Just before they doze off, though, they realize that something amazing is happening. Jesus is changing before their eyes. His face looks different; his clothes are dazzling ; he is glorious.
But that’s not all. Rubbing their eyes, the disciples realize that not only has Jesus changed, but that he is not alone. Two of the greatest faith leaders of all time have shown up to chat with him. There they are: Moses and Elijah.
Peter gets so excited he can’t help himself. He doesn’t want this party to end. Peter says to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But before Jesus can answer, a cloud comes and overshadows everyone; and the disciples are terrified. From the cloud comes a voice that says: “This is my son, my chosen, my beloved; listen to him!”
Incredible. But suddenly, the excitement is over. The special guests depart. The cloud disappears. Jesus, Peter, James, and John head back down the mountain and back to work. And the disciples keep silent, telling no one what they have seen.
A few weeks ago, the Multi-age and middler classes of our Sunday school heard this same story. They went on a hike, just like Jesus and Peter and James and John. They went up the mountain from their classroom in the basement, up to the top floor. They saw a big spotlight and imagined how bright Jesus became. They got covered by a big, white sheet and imagined what it would be like to be covered by a great cloud. And then they returned back down all those steps to their classroom, in silence.
It’s such an exciting story. Bright lights and clouds. Holy visitors and the voice of God herself. But the ending – the ending is a little anti-climactic. After they went downstairs in silence, the multi-age and middler classes got to have trail mix back in their classroom, but Jesus and the disciples don’t even get that. They just return to their daily work.
If we’re lucky, we get a few moments like this in our lives. A few moments when God’s glory is bright and breathtaking. A few moments when God’s voice is amazingly, terrifyingly loud in our ears. What happens afterwards? How do we sustain our hope and energy without that clarity, without that adrenaline?
Today as we remember this exciting story of God’s glory, we also celebrate two of the things that keep us going in those less glorious moments.
In a few minutes, some young people in our congregation will receive a bible. This book is one of the biggest helps that we have in our life of faith. It is not short. It is not always easy to understand. But it contains the testimony of so many of our ancestors. In this book, they tell us all about how they experience and understand God. This is a mine, full of treasures, available for us to dig into at any time.
And a few minutes after we present these bibles, we’re going to welcome new members into our faith community. These people, this community, this is another amazing resource for our faith. It is not simple to live in community together. It is not easy. But each person has testimony to give, and service to offer, joy to share, and help to receive. This congregation is a beautiful web of wisdom and love, available to support us at any time.
If we’re lucky, we get a few moments of God’s blazing glory in our lives. I don’t blame Peter for wanting to set up shop at the top of the mountain. It is good for us to be overwhelmed, to be overcome by the presence and power of God. But we need something else to go on as we continue with our daily work.
Let’s not forget what’s right at our fingertips. This book – if you do not have a copy we can surely get you one – this book is worth your time. And this community – this community is worth your time. God doesn’t often interrupt our lives with pyrotechnic display. Usually, we need to pay attention or we’ll miss out on what the Holy Spirit is doing. It’s worth taking the time to pay attention, by reading scripture, by being in holy community. We need those smaller sips of grace, those little glimpses of truth, those moments of wonder, those breaths of release, to keep us going.
In big and small ways, God leads us. So let’s sing Lead me, Guide me. We’ll sing it in three parts, weaving it in with the next pieces of our worship….
(for those of you at home, you can sing along with this video!)