“Glorify and Enjoy God” Pilgrim Church UCC, Transfiguration, (Luke 9:28-36) February 7, 2016

Transfiguration Sunday
-Transfiguration is one of twelve “Great Feasts” celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox tradition.
-Humans are created in the divine image of God; humans are most human when we’re united with God.
-Perhaps it’s a metaphor or it could depict a mystical experience.
-The aura of unnatural brilliance is often associated with mystical experiences.
-There’s mysticism in every World Religion.  Some people have visions or dream dreams or hear beyond their sense organs.  Like the still, small voice of God Elijah heard in 1 Kings.  Others speak of seeing as a dawning realization.  Some people have mystical experiences through ordinary objects that carry extraordinary meaning.  People experience God in nature—the deep silence of a forest, the vastness of the starry sky, the rhythm of the ocean.  For a moment, feeling like part of something so much bigger than themselves.[1]
-Jesus has Peter, John, and James with him as they go up a mountain to pray.  Jesus’ face glows and his clothes become dazzling white.  They see Moses and Elijah.  The disciples fall asleep—overwhelmed by fear?
-Upon waking, Peter declares that they should make 3 dwellings—for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses.
-Before he’s done explaining his plan, there’s a cloud that descends.  Upon entering that cloud they hear a voice, “This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him!”
-After the disciples are scared again and the voice has spoken, Jesus is found alone (back to “normal”.)  With that, the four friends head down the mountain to join the world again.

So what?
-They go up the mountain to pray and perhaps had a Mountaintop Moment.  A moment of deep connection.
-From The Westminster Catechism: the chief end of humanity is to glorify God and enjoy God forever.
-We easily judge the over-eager Peter for wanting to build dwellings and bask in this glorious moment with Jesus, but why?  Peter longs to stay close to the Divine, to hold onto this mountaintop moment.

-Indian children’s story Out of the way!  Out of the way! (Uma Krishnaswami & Uma Krishnaswamy)
-Dusty path that ran through a village and people and animals walked up and down, going from here to there and back again.  One day a boy spotted something small and green in the middle of the path—a baby tree.  He took some rocks and put them around the tree.  As the baby tree grew bigger, the feet of the people going from here to there and back again wore the path into a curving lane.  And the people kept racing by with “out of the way, out of the way.”
-The tree grew bigger still and the boy saw a pair of crows build a nest in its branches.  Though everyone went by telling the boy, “out of the way, out of the way.”
-The tree kept growing and the boy and his friends laughed and joked and clowned around beneath the tree as everyone else continued on with their lives with “out of the way, out of the way.”
-Years passed, and a new father who knew this tree well, crossed a busy road with his small children to find a giant tree with its roots digging deep and its broad branches providing shade.  Now sometimes the drivers of cars, buses, trucks and tractors stop under the shade of that tree to rest and stay awhile and listen.
-If we are meant to glorify and enjoy God forever, maybe we stop saying “out of the way, out of the way” as we carry on with our busyness and we pause to go up that mountain or sit under that tree and just listen.  Just listen.  May it be so with us.

[1] “Religious Experience,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/religious-experience/