When there is a crisis, humans often look for a meaning in it. Why did this happen? We try to wrap our minds around it. Such a crisis event takes place for some of the disciples in the Gospel reading from Mark 9. Jesus takes some of the disciples to a high mountain and there he is transfigured before them. His clothes became a dazzling white such as never had been seen before. Then, Elijah with Moses appears before them and a voice from a cloud says, “this is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!”.
Really? Can you imagine such a mountain top experience? Peter, James and John were overwhelmed. Peter, not knowing what to say, offers to build them dwellings. This was a custom in those days to quickly assembly a booth to provide some shelter. He must have thought to himself, really? This can’t be happening. This is a crisis moment for Peter because it was not something he was used to experiencing.
To help the congregation get a better understanding of how Peter must have felt, Pastor led the congregation through a guided meditation. We took a few few minutes to visualize a happy place. A beach. A mountain. A boat. Time with friends and family. Now as you begin to relax in this place, suddenly an elephant appears! We try to apply our human understanding to the event. Try and interpret why this elephant is now in this place and how you might explain its sudden appearance. That is how it is with God sometimes too. We don’t always recognize God in our everyday life and then we have a moment where God is truly present. We have difficultly expressing how and why his presence impacts us so profoundly. And yet we try anyway. We want to share the experience with others, in hopes that they too might recognize a God moment. In that moment, you really get it.
In the gospel, God’s voice is heard telling them to listen to Jesus. That is what our tasks is. This is what God calls us to do. We have events in our lives where we experience God. Those moments when we know that something larger than ourselves is in control and we feel at peace. But we don’t live in those mountain top experiences, but in the valley of everyday life. The sense of peace we get on Sunday during worship is often hard to find on a Monday morning. We have difficulty experiencing Jesus during the week. But through scripture, we are reminded that he is with us to the end of the age. Really!
Now back to that happy place. Forget about the elephant. It is hard to do. But, it is gone now. Instead, picture a chalice filled to overflowing and a warm loaf of bread. And hear these words, this is my body and blood given for you. For YOU. Amen.