Dear friends in Christ,
Towards the end of last year, the brothers climbed Mt. Gudgenby, the highest mountain in the ACT, affording them a beautiful 360 degree panoramic view of surrounding countryside. Over the Summer break, they went further and climbed Mt Kosciuszko, on the ordinary tracks of course, and camped on the top of Australia. In both places they had beautiful prayer experiences, as if heaven was meeting earth in a new way. These mountain top experiences remind us of the encounters in Scripture when the Lord meets his chosen ones on a mountain. We think of Moses on Mt Sinai in the midst of lightning and thunder receiving the tablets of the commandments, which spelt out the response the people needed to make in the covenant God has established with them. Or Elijah on Mt Horeb seeking the Lord in time of peril, not finding him in the earthquake, nor in the mighty wind, nor in the blazing fire, but in the still quiet voice whispered in the gentle breeze.
Both of these Old Testament theophanies are the background to the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mt Tabor. When Jesus was at prayer, he was transfigured, his clothes becoming luminescent, his whole visage with shining glory. The veil hiding his divinity was draw back for a while and the apostles experienced the mind-blowing presence of God’s glory, evoking awe and wonder, causing Peter to exclaim, “Lord it is good for us to be here”. In other words “there is nowhere else we would rather be”.
They were already experiencing a taste of the overwhelming beauty and majesty of God, preparing them for the painful journey of the passion to come, and giving them a foretaste of the splendour of the glorious resurrection which they were destined to witness.
Naturally, Peter wanted to lock the experience down forever: “Lord let’s set up three tents, one for you, one for Elijah, and one for Moses”. But these mountain top experiences are not given to us to be contained and maintained under our control. They are moments when the Lord meets us for a purpose, empowers us, and sends us forth. For the apostles it was to be strengthened for the journey towards Jerusalem and the call to another mountain, Calvary, on which they would suffer with Jesus.
During this Lent I recommend you find your own mountain, whether it is an actual climb, or a more metaphoric journey. “Seek the Lord while he is still to be found! Call on him while he is near!”. Maybe join with the psalmist, “I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from. My help comes from you maker of heaven and earth. O how I need you Lord! You are my hope!” Let the air thin out as you allow the Lord to encounter you and reveal his heart to you. Allow him to draw near and speak to you of his purposes, let him touch you with his love, and shine his light on you, giving you all the help you need to move towards your Calvary, whatever that may be, full of sure hope of the resurrection to come.
Blessings to you all,