Here and There (Holy Land Pilgrimage, Dispatch 5)

Church of the Holy Communion seemed especially far away today. 

I have been at “Holy C” long enough that I always feel a little off when my feet aren’t behind its altar on Sunday morning, but that was especially true on this Youth Sunday – one of my favorite days of the entire church year and a project that I have watched our youth work hard to prepare over the last several months. My heart was both here and there this morning, and perhaps that was the best possible way to approach our visit to Mount Tabor, the place venerated as the site of Jesus’ transfiguration. 

Scripture tells us that Jesus took Peter, James and John away with him to a high mountain, and was revealed there in all his divine glory, alongside both Moses and Elijah. I offer as my reflection this evening an approximation of the homily that I delivered at that holy site. Though I am speaking to a specific audience in a specific place, I hope that the message will apply to us all: It is important to find some time to be alone with God, to be inspired and transformed, and it is important that we be palpably different when we come down the mountain. 

We love you, and we miss you. Every blessing on this Second Sunday of Easter. 

(In addition to reading what follows, I hope that you will also read or listen to Jim House’s excellent Youth Sunday sermon on the so-called Doubting Thomas, the gospel lesson appointed for today. I could not be more proud of his hard work. Click here to access Jim’s sermon.)

A Homily on Mount Tabor 

Sunday, April 3, 2016 

Mark 9:2-13

I have often wondered why Jesus took Peter, James and John up the Mount of Transfiguration. Only a quarter of the Twelve – not Thomas, not Andrew, not Bartholomew, not any of the others. All I can assume is that Peter, James and John were in need of something: Perhaps inspiration, perhaps reassurance in their faith.

In a similar way, we have been called away to this mountain today. Twenty people among more than four hundred at Church of the Holy Communion have been given the remarkable opportunity to spend some time on the mountain with God. Perhaps we need a bit of reassurance, a bit of inspiration. Regardless, the question before us is how we will be transformed by our time here. 

Remember that the prefix “trans-” does not mean “across,” but rather “through.” The disciples did not see Jesus across his earthly figure, but through it. They saw who he really was, fully divine with his humanity rolled away like the stone on his tomb soon would be. 

As we approach our time at this holy site, resist the temptation to be like Peter, attempting to build booths to encapsulate the majesty of this place and the grandeur of God. Just let God be big, and let yourself be small. Let God be in control, and accept his invitation simply to rest in his presence. 

But, go home changed. Jesus asked the disciples not to tell anyone about their experience until he had risen from the grave. He is risen now, and people should be able to see we are different for having had this time away with him.


Posted by The Reverend Sandy Webb at 11:34 AM
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