A Lot Going On
Jesus takes Peter, James and John and together they ascend a mountain. At the top, something miraculous happens: the veil that separates heaven and earth is rolled back just for a moment. They see with their own eyes, the glory of God's only Son and the embodied presence of God's law and prophetic witness. They hear God voice speak directly to them, testifying to Jesus' identity and authority. It's a rare moment of frightening clarity. The kind of revelation that we have come to expect to happen to saints ascending mountains.
What is it about mountains that bring us closer to heaven, closer to God? There's something inspiring about sitting down and looking out over creation, away from, above the hubbub of everyday human life. In the Bible Moses receives the law from God by going up the mountain. Elijah encounters God as a still, small voice that speaks to him on the mountain. Now Jesus, too, is revealed as God's beloved on the mountain. Mountains become holy spaces.
But at the end of this story, after the cloud disappears, after the voice from heaven, the disciples see Jesus only. Together they descend the mountain. This time, the revelation of God's presence doesn't end by God returning to heaven and the person returning to earth, but now God descends the mountain with them. Jesus abides with them.
Jesus will be God with us. He will die for us, and God will raise him from the dead, and by his life, death and resurrection, Jesus will open heaven to us, remove the veil that stands between us. There is now no need to climb the mountain to get closer to God, to strain for a terrifying glimpse of heaven, but God has come to us in Jesus.
There’s a lot going on in our worship this weekend — baptism, new members, first communion — but all are signs that God has broken down the barrier between heaven and earth in Jesus Christ. All are celebration of Jesus’ abiding presence. In baptism, we do not climb to the mountain or prescribe elaborate rituals — just come to the bath and trust God’s word and promise for you. We don’t require new members prove their worth by climbing mountain or performing feats of daring — just come and tell us that you, like us, trust your life in Jesus’ promise of forgiveness, life and salvation; just tell us you want to be part of God’s good news right here. We don’t make this first communion class memorize volumes of material or present character witnesses testifying to their moral readiness to come to Christ’s table — just that they recognize that Jesus is here in bread and wine and his body and blood are now given for you. Trust the Word; believe the promise. God has come down in Christ to be our God.
The words of the law, the words of the prophets, come together in Jesus. He is God’s promise for us, walking with us right here in the lowlands of Edison. Christ is here for you, and God's kingdom is breaking in and this world is being transfigured before our eyes ... In Jesus name. Amen.
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