Emmitsburg Council of Churches


The Holy Gospel According to Luke 9:28-43

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 9:29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 9:30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 9:31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 9:32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 9:33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah" not knowing what he said. 9:34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 9:35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" 9:36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

9:37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 9:38 Just then a man from the crowd shouted, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 9:39 Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 9:40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not." 9:41 Jesus answered, "You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here." 9:42 While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 9:43 And all were astounded at the greatness of God. . . .

The Gospel of the Lord . . .

Christ Transfigured Appeared to Me In this Man

Thinking about the disciples' experience of Christ's Transfiguration caused me to think of a time in my own experience when I felt the awe of being surrounded by clouds and hearing God's voice speak to me like when the disciples heard the voice of God from out of the cloud there on that mountain when Jesus' Glory was revealed.

Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, my own experience was not one of those dramatic "mountain top" experiences like hiking in the high tops of the Rocky Mountains, being covered in a cloud and then the sky suddenly clearing and finding oneself at the ledge of some frighteningly high cliff! Neither was my experience related to one of those airplane rides where you see the most beautiful and majestic cloud formations below, or when the plane breaks through the cloudy darkness to reveal a beautiful blue skyline with brilliant sunshine! This sight is especially brilliant when you know that it is a dreary and cloudy day back home!

For sure, these are the kinds of "mountain top" experiences we may have in this life.

However, in my "God in the clouds" experience I was pedaling a bicycle down a long, straight, and flat piece of highway in central Florida. To be perfectly honest with you, I was on the highway nicknamed, "Alligator Alley" located somewhere in the Everglades tributaries found in that region of south central Florida.

As you might imagine, Alligator Alley is not a very good place to be bicycling if there's a thick blanket of fog to go through and you can only see a few feet in front of you, and its raining and -- there's the gators to either side of the roadway that stretches for miles and miles through this part of the country. The situation only gets more comical when you realize, its 10 o'clock at night!!

Well, I hadn't exactly planned on being out so late!! Then again, my friend and I were not very good planners either!! So, due to the poor planning and on account of those road signs warning of the large gator population in the area -- we had to keep on pedaling until we got to someplace resembling civilization.

It wasn't long, maybe around the time that the rain was seeping into my socks, that I think I heard the voice of God! Funny how much God's voice sounded like a very large Semi-Truck blasting his horn at us!! I felt the same fear as the disciples there on that Mountain Top with Jesus, when God's Voice Spoke out of the Cloud. As the big rig emerged from out of the fog behind me, I realized he was towing a 14' wide Mobile Home, which, ironically, was overhanging the narrow shoulder we were precariously peddling down! Beside the alligator swamps!

And you thought Peter, and James and John were terrified as they were engulfed by that cloud that day!! Out of our cloudy minds on this foggy night we heard God . . . and God said -- get out of the WAY!!!! And so we kind of fell off the edge of the road, narrowly escaping from the danger of that moment.

Does anyone really know what to say at a time when God has revealed himself to us?? We often identify most closely with Peter in the many lessons we hear as Peter reacts to whatever situation he has found himself in with Jesus. Peter's suggestion about capturing this great moment (by building tabernacles) as the glory of God is revealed in Jesus and these two "most prominent" Old Testament figures have appeared to speak with Jesus about what is to come -- Peter's suggestion suddenly makes good sense. We need to hang onto and remember the mountain top experiences of our lives. Especially, when we recognize that God is at work, revealing God's self to us.

At this time of the church year, Transfiguration Sunday, we recognize that we have reached the pinnacle moment of Jesus ministry God's light has been revealed to the world through his Son == We also recognize that Jesus has set his course toward Jerusalem. Jesus' conversation with Moses and Elijah was to affirm what had to be done to accomplish Salvation's Plan. Christ God's Son would be arrested, undergo suffering and be crucified but raised up after three days. . . .

Not too many miles after my encounter with God along that misty swamp edge, I saw a most welcomed light. The work lamp hung from the hood of a 67 Pontiac and the light gleamed from the highly polished motor parts. Nervously my friend and I approached the man to inquire if we could pitch our camping tent in his yard, quickly, but carefully explaining that we'd be glad to pay for this privilege. The man looked up with grease smudged cheeks, but had a friendly smile. "You boys look like you could use a good night's rest. Your welcome to camp out over there where my beagles' dog house is."

At this hour of the night and in this remote place camping by the beagles' dog house was sounding really good!! We talked a little more with him about the race car and then got settled in for the night. At least the dogs would let us know if gators were about or any other wild creatures threatening. . . .

We cannot always understand how or when God will reveal himself to us in this life. But when we can't see God, and the way is cloudy or dark we must trust and believe what is beyond our experience and senses.

What we can't comprehend, we have to believe most deeply. Like Christ's Transfiguration, his Death, and Christ's Resurrection -- these are the cores of our Christian Faith. That to which we must cling in uncertain times.

May we find our comfort and rest and safe haven in Christ, who is our rock of safety and our Salvation.

May the peace of God, which surpasses human understanding fill your minds, satisfy your heart, and be the strength of your spirit. Amen

Read more writings of Pastor Jon