The Gospels tell us Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain. And they had what we would call a “mountain top experience” as they saw Jesus Transfigured. It changed them and gave them a new view of who Jesus was, and who they were in relationship to Jesus. Peter famously wanted to stay there to continue to enjoy this new viewpoint – and remain there – not facing the day to day stresses as they headed towards Jerusalem where Jesus said he would die. Mountain tops are great places, no wonder we want to remain there.
Last weekend I had one of those mountain-top times. We celebrated the 40th anniversary of my ordination with a benefit concert, a family dinner, the Sunday service at St Mark’s Newark where Nancy preached and at the reception following. It was a heady weekend seeing old friends, colleagues, family members and so many friends.
We raised over $5,100 to be divided between the two summer youth programs. Many kind things and caring things were said to me. It was an opportunity for me to pause to reflect on what has been, and to recognize the ways in which threads of the past intersect and are woven together to form the fabric of my life. Honestly, there is the temptation to want to stay in this nostalgic mindset thinking about the past and about the good things that have been accomplished.
But the Gospel story is our story as well. In the gospel Jesus insisted that the disciples immediately go down the mountain back in to the valley where the work was still to be done. The path before them rose on its way to Jerusalem, and the final confrontation with the authorities had to be experienced before they could fully know the power of resurrection.
Each of us has our mountain top experience somewhere. But we quickly discover that we cannot live forever on the mountain top (much as we might like to try). The experience gives us a new vision, a view of who we are, and whom we worship, and who it is who calls us to go back into the world to continue our journey and our work to be co-creators with God recreating the world as God would have it.
This anniversary mountain top has given me a renewed vision to, as the hymn phrases it “Come labor on.”