Transfiguration Sunday 2021 Year B
Have you ever noticed that life is filled with peaks and valleys? For those of you that may not understand what I mean, a peak is something in your life that is something to celebrate and remember. A peak is something that is wonderful and exciting and brings joy to your corner of the world.
For example, the birth of your child is a peak moment in your life. The day you were married is a peak moment in your life. The day you purchased a new home, or earned a promotion at work, or were able to share with others a specific blessing that God has shared with you, well - these are all peak moments in your life.
But unfortunately, as you may well be aware, life is not one peak moment after another. And each one of us gathered here this morning has experienced times when we were in the valley. And all of us have experienced times when the sorrows and troubles of this life have overshadowed the peaks that we have celebrated.
For instance, if you have been diagnosed with cancer or have been treated for some other terrifying physical ailment, you have gone through a valley experience.
If you have experienced the death of a loved one, or have felt the pain of someone else, or have witnessed the misery that we humans can inflict upon one another, you have gone through a valley experience.
And the point being that we all have had moments when we were on top of the maintain and moments when we were down in the valley.
And so, I am going to put you on the spot today and ask you, where are you right now? Are you presently experiencing a peak in your life or are you traveling through a valley?
Or maybe, just maybe, right now you are located between a peak and a valley experience, and you are about to go through something new and reach a new height or a new low and you do not even know it yet. After all, who knows what tomorrow might bring.
Which brings us, then to our Gospel reading for today. In our text today, the disciples had no way of knowing that soon they would go through a valley and journey with Jesus as He experienced a low point in His earthly life.
After all, according to the Gospel of Mark, things had been pretty good up to that point because the disciples had witnessed Jesus perform miracle after miracle and they had heard the “Good News” through His teachings.
And I think up until this point in His ministry, it must have been pretty easy to be a disciple of Jesus because the disciples had experienced one peak moment after another with Jesus.
And so, it is no surprise that the disciples would have had no way of knowing that they would soon journey with Jesus into the valley of the shadow of death.
And that the disciples had no way of knowing that soon the crowds would turn against Jesus, and that one of them would betray Jesus, and that Jesus would be arrested and tortured and executed in a most shameful and brutal manner.
But Jesus did. Knowing that, Jesus took three of His disciples to the top of a mountain so that they could catch a glimpse of His glory and experience a peak (a high point) in His ministry so that they would, be strengthened for the difficult road ahead.
And that is why we journey with these three disciples prior to the Season of Lent. For up until now, our Lectionary through the Epiphany Season has pointed out only the peaks (the high moments) in Christ’s ministry.
And we have rejoiced over the healing of the man with leprosy, and the healing of a man that had been paralyzed, and the healing of the man with an unclean spirit, and the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law.
And we heard Jesus call His first disciples and His message about forgiveness. And we heard the voice speak at His baptism saying: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with Him I am well pleased,” and today on Transfiguration Sunday we just heard “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to Him.”
And so, as we are about to enter the Lenten Season, our attention now shifts towards the journey that Christ will take towards the valley of death. And we will hear (during the next six weeks) that Christ was rejected, and that He suffered, and that He died for the sin of the whole world.
And we will hear about the difficult moments in Christ’s ministry and we will hear about the worst things that we as humans can inflict upon each another.
We journey today with these three disciples to the top of the mountain, because it helps us to prepare for the valley ahead in the church cycle. And it helps us to prepare for the valleys that we will face in our lives.
For the text allows us to witness, for a brief moment, a vision of God’s glory made manifest through His beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
My friends, I do not know where you will be in two, five, or ten years from now or what peaks or valleys you will experience.
Right now, we do not even know if we will be experiencing a mountain top event or a valley event three months from now due to the corona virus.
And we have questions such as “when will this pandemic end?” and “when will life return to normal?” We do not know. Never-the-less it is good to be here in church because it is here that we are strengthened for the days ahead, even with all its peaks and all its valleys, so that we may serve God and continue life’s journey with one another.
Today on Transfiguration Sunday we are encouraged to not lose heart but turn instead to God in faith and love and face the crisis as a person/as people of faith. God is with us today even as we face this pandemic.
God became one of us to live and share our life, and all our struggles, and all the weaknesses of our fallen humanity. God became one of us to reassure us that He stands with us as we journey through the highs and the lows of life in God’s creation and that we can trust in His love and in His mercy. Amen.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you came to us in our bondage, and led us to freedom by the Cross and resurrection. May our lives praise you, and our lips proclaim your mighty power to all people that they may find their hope in you, and live to your honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.