In this week's focus passage -- the story of Jesus' transfiguration -- the quest is for a continuous mountaintop experience. It didn't start that way. Peter and James and John hiked up that mountain alongside Jesus as they had become accustomed to doing. Where Jesus went, they went. While there was no such thing as "an ordinary day" with Jesus, surely Jesus' disciples were not expecting what they saw: a dazzling transfiguration, an appearance from age-old prophets, a message from God spoken out loud. They were awed and (almost) speechless. Almost, but not quite.
In a moment of complete bliss, Peter says, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." I've been there. I even wrote a very short song that asks for "just a few more minutes on the mountain, Lord" on my way home from one such mountain-top experience (I've been so fortunate to have many over the years). How many times in our lives have found ourselves in stunned silence as we saw the light and love of Jesus revealed in scripture and in community? How many times have we witnessed revelations that changed our perspective of the past and the future entirely? The quest to hold on to that "mountaintop experience" is strong. We don't want to carry it with us ... we want to bask in it ... never leave it.
The challenge is that the work we are called to do is not on the mountaintop. The mountaintop is where we go to gain perspective on the work that waits for us in the valley. It's what gives us the energy to go down and do it. It's where we go to be reminded who we are and whose we are. Every year, I climb the proverbial mountain to the Annual Event for the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) for my transfiguration moments. This year, the mountain was digital, but I can promise you I still wanted to build a dwelling there, and stay. The quest to stay is not the quest to which we are called. If it was, Jesus would have allowed it, possibly encouraged it, or even made it happen.
Jesus took Peter, James, and John to that mountaintop to give them a radical new understanding that would shape their ministry going forward. Jesus takes us to similar mountaintops for the same reason. The quest cannot be to stay, but to carry those experiences with us when we hike back down into the trenches of day to day life. This week, meditate on mountaintop experiences where you have learned something new about God and God's purpose for the world. Remember it, and sit in that memory, recalling everything about it that left you feeling reverent and filled with awe. How did that shift your perspective? How has it shaped your ministry? Revisiting that moment, tuck your mind-blowing, norm-shattering, life-changing moment in your pocket where it can radiate light that warms and energizes your entire being, and head back into your day to day life with God's words echoing in your ears.
Julie participated in the 25th Seminar for Certified Zentangle(R) Teacher Training in June, 2019, trained by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. In addition to creating art as a personal spiritual practice, Julie also incorporates the Zentangle(R) method in Prayer Art Retreats in a variety of contexts, including church groups, friend gatherings, and at a local art gallery. Check out the Upcoming Events page for a calendar of events, or use the Contact Us page to inquire about scheduling an event with your group!
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