Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shown like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" When the disciples heard this they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid." And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, "Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."
Have you ever had a "mountain top" experience? It's one of those moments in life where you feel absolutely connected to God, like you are in the right place at the right time, and everything is working out just exactly as it should. Suddenly you know who you are and who you are meant to be and all is right in the world. Sometimes these moments happen on a mission trip, sometimes in a worship service, sometimes on a literal, actual mountain top.
In today's Gospel, we see Peter, James, and John having their mountain top experience. They are, in fact, at the top of a mountain with Jesus, and he is transfigured before their very eyes. It's like, for a moment, the human part of Jesus has been shed and all they can see is his divine glory. He literally glows like sunshine and dazzles them with light. The experience is so moving for Peter that he wants to stay in that moment forever - he immediately offers to Jesus to build three dwelling places, for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, so they and he can just stay here in this place, in this moment, forever.
But Jesus reminds Peter of what is true of all mountain top experiences - they do not last forever. At some point, we must come down off the mountain. We can't stay in the high point forever - we have to get back to real life, back to the work God calls us to. Hopefully, we are changed by the experience - we are more motivated, more focused, more willing to take on the hard tasks of doing what needs to be done. The mountain top experience only remains relevant to our lives if we allow it to push us in the right direction, rather than wallow in wishing we could have stayed on the mountain forever.
If you have never had one of these experiences, I hope that you will someday. If you have, I hope you take some time to think back to that experience, to what it clarified for you, then take a look at your life and see if you are living it out. Like with Peter, James, and John, Jesus is right there beside you, to help show you the way.
God of transfiguration and transformation, thank you for the mountain top experiences of our lives. Help us to bring that same spirit of awe, wonder, and clarity to all the moments of our lives, that we might live to do your work in this world. Amen.