27 Feb To See The Son
It’s Good to be Here
If I could find that place where I know Jesus was always present and was not only just there but was there in a hugely emotional way then I could build a place there and bring people to it couldn’t I? That would make it all worth it. It would prove to myself and my family that I can climb a mountain every day and experience such an amazing encounter with Jesus Christ that the rest of the world just slips away.
No more voicemails, no more running to families in crisis, no more crowds pushing in from every side with everyone wanting a piece of my time, my prayers my sanity. No more complaints, no more questions about things… all would fade away in the light of this intense experience of Jesus Christ.
And we could do it all the time… a never-ending brightness that never leaves us alone in the dark with our sinful thoughts. And then we can call other people up here with us to have the same experience and that would be our mission… getting people out of the crowds and up to the mountaintop…. And they could be people like us who look like us and act like us, who live like us and love like us and it could be our place. No more of the sick and broken no more of the infirm and unclean no more of the unstable or uncool or unloved… just the cool kids up here please… this is our mountain and our Jesus and you can content yourselves with the glow of this wonderful man from down there in the valley.
“Lord, it’s good for us to be here” Peter says.
“The Son of Man must go to Jerusalem to suffer and die, “ Jesus said six days earlier.
Coming Down from the Mountain
Safety and comfort and true knowledge is what we have always strived for isn’t it brother and sisters? Original sin was about what? True knowledge of good and evil… we wanted to know what God knew and so we ate that apple. Safety and comfort comes at what expense brothers and sisters… it comes at the expense of our brothers and sisters. If we build our own walls big enough then nothing can get in to effect our lives… we don’t’ have to worry about each other as long as we can’t see each other right?
And if Jesus Christ walks into this safe and comfortable life and makes me his child then all is good. Nothing to change nothing to criticize nothing to push me out of the comfort zone of what I think is right. I can stay up here on this ol’ mountain and build me a booth for my Jesus to live in.
But Jesus cannot be held in a booth. This story ends with the descent from the mountain… Jesus and the disciples come back down to the waiting crowds in the valley. It had to have been tiring and exhilarating to be at the center of a circle like Jesus Christ’s. With a constant crowd pushing in from all sides, people reaching for Jesus’ clothes and seeking just a moment here and just a moment there. How could the disciples resist getting big egos as they walked with their master jealously guarding the door to his time and schedule? Well, remember later in this Gospel the disciples do just that with a group of children all longing for Jesus’ prayer… remember they do that with the women anointing Jesus’ feet with her hair. The disciples played all too well the role of gatekeepers to Jesus healing presence in the lives of so many people.
Called in the Valley
And Peter’s reaction on the mountain is ours too isn’t it? When we have that face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ where we just know he must be who he says he is it is our temptation to stay there on that mountain and build a booth so that we might hold on to that feeling, that experience forever.
But know this. We are called back down into the valley and Jesus leads us there. Jesus leads us where we need to be and it is enough for us to be still and know that he is God. It is in the muck of everyday life that we find our calling. If you come to this place expecting to be transported to another dimension or to some sort of emotional ecstatic experience of God then you are in the wrong place.
This is the church… and it is not built to be a perfect place. Any perfection that appears in this place is solely because of our own efforts at the exclusion of Jesus Christ. Any ideas that you may hold that you can come here to pretend that you are not in need of God’s forgiveness and mercy, that your life can be held up higher than any others are booths of your own making and campgrounds of own building on false ideas of your own holiness and perfection.
Where Church is Found
Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in his book Life Together that life together under the Word will remain sound and healthy only where it does not form itself into a movement, an order, a society, a group for true piety but rather where it understands itself as being part of the one, holy, catholic, Christian Church where it shares actively and passively in the sufferings and struggles and promise of the whole Christian Church.
The Church is to be found in the midst of the outsiders, the unclean, the unloved the un-comforming the uncool the unknowing the uncomfortable. If Christian life and love were to be found in some sort of ideal encounter with Jesus Christ and left there then it would rot and collapse under its own pride and self-centeredness.
We are called today to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. This encounter is real and we must never forget it… but we are called to bring this light that shines brighter than no other back down off the mountain to the valleys of life too. If we are not down there then we are caught in booths of our own making wondering where everyone went… wondering where Jesus went. Our mission is not to ourselves it is to our neighbors it is to the outsiders it is to those from whom we wish to move away. You are those people too… do you think you don’t need what Jesus has to offer? And yet he comes back down to the crowds and continues on his way towards Jerusalem and death. He would not be chained down to a booth on a hill just as the stone of the tomb would not contain him. Nothing on earth can defeat the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who on this day is revealing himself to you and who comes to you in the midst of your everyday struggles and fears and pains and sorrows, who comes to you in death and the loneliness of the tomb and brings you life together and life everlasting.