Lectionary Reflection Luke 9:28-36 for 2/14/10

The Transfiguration or God On the Mountain

Have you ever had a mountaintop experience?  I am speaking spiritually.  Have you ever felt so close to God you cried for joy–when everything seemed to go right in a way that was awesome, incredible, perhaps even miraculous? 

If you haven’t, neither have I—but many have, and I have been privileged to be around while others have been in the midst of just such a time.  What I have found most interesting is nearly always, after the fact, people don’t want to talk about it.  Oh, there are the few who try to shout it from the rooftops, often embarrassingly so, but most keep their mouths clamped shut.

Peter, James and John did the same thing.  You might be tempted to think that they decided not to talk about it for fear that the others might become jealous.  But rather, I think it was because they were afraid the others would think them mad, deluded and given to hallucinations.  I can just hear Phillip:  “Yeah, and when did the Yeti show up?”

This is the “seeing is believing” or “you had to be there” syndrome, or what I sometimes call the “I’ll be damned syndrome.”  (Not my story, but a good one)…

It is like when the little boy was pulling his wagon down the sidewalk and one of the wheels fell off.  He looked at the wheel and shouted, “I’ll be damned!”  Naturally, the minister was walking by at that very moment.  (It is how these things work, you know).  He turned to the little boy and offered a word.

“Son, you shouldn’t say that.  That is a bad thing to say and a bad word.  I tell you what, next time something happens say “Praise the Lord!”  You’ll see.  Everything will work out then.”

The little boy shrugged as he put the wheel back on.  He started walking, pulling his wagon, but did not get ten feet before the wheel fell off again.  This time, though, he turned and shouted, “Praise the Lord.”  And you know?  That wheel picked itself up off the sidewalk and stuck itself back on the wagon…

Of course, the minister saw this happen, and he said, “Well, I’ll be damned.”

Seeing is believing, but you had to be there.  I think that is the basic truth of any mountaintop experience.

The transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop is certainly like that.  If you have been in church for any amount of time, you have heard the story told and preached before.  But telling does not have the same impact as being there must have had.  I think Peter James and John were speechless.  I know I would be.  Because, it is one thing to talk about God and Heaven and all that sort of stuff, but quite another thing to be in the actual presence and power of the almighty!  I would say, if the transfiguration does not scare you and inspire you, then you haven’t really grasped it.

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