In my last year of seminary I got to take a trip to Israel and the Sinai. One of the places we went to was Mount Tabor…the traditional location of the transfiguration. There on the top of that lone hill was a church…the church of the Transfiguration… go figure eh? And in that church there are chapels … one for Moses…one for Elijah…and the main chapel, for Jesus. There are a lot of people like Peter out there I think. Peter is an action/reaction kind of guy…a leap before you look…a speak before you think kinda guy….and that doesn’t mean he’s wrong …he just says what he thinks. The Transfiguration of Jesus was a fairly momentous and I’d wage a fairly traumatic event for the disciples. Moses and Elijah were long dead …so for the disciples to see their own Rabbi, Jesus, standing with these two, transfigured and glorious, would have been quite the shock, and quite the revelation. And for Peter, as it would for many of us I imagine, it inspired an immediate response. “ Then Peter said to Jesus, , "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"” This makes sense …erecting altars,… memorials,… shrines… at places of significance or places of revelation … this was done throughout the bible in places like Beth-El where Jacob saw his vision of the ladder to heaven. There Jacob took the stone which he had used as a pillow and anointed it as an altar of remembrance and sanctified that place. So, it isn’t so odd to propose monument, a place of worship, after experiencing the transfiguration…it was quite a typical reaction.…after all we’ve got a church there now! It makes sense to react, and Peter is great at reacting… I can just imagine him, excited beyond measure… talking about fabric swatches for the tents, thinking up the best priests and Levites to offer sacrifices, turning to the other disciples to encourage them to form a committee… What do you think Jesus…how about the Sacred Moment Shrine…or the Jesus memorial center…eh? Oh wait! We’re gonna need a fundraising committee… Fortunately, Peter is cut off before he can start organizing the bake sales. The voice of God cuts through the dazzle of the transfiguration and the gut responses of Peter to proclaim “This is my son, Listen to him!” and then it was quiet…the disciples, including Peter are cowering on the ground and Jesus is there alone…comforting them. The dazzle and the awe are gone…it’s just the disciples and their rabbi…but the disciples not unlike Jesus, are changed, they too are transfigured. For all the difficulty that churches seem to be having attendance wise, people still desire that experience of transfiguration. Pilgrimages, spiritual centers and monastic hospitality houses are very popular…people want the mountain top experience. They want to gaze on the transfigured glory and have some of it rub off on them…or have it bottled to take home to open when needed. Perhaps it was something like that which Peter could be proposing… a place where you can go and hear the story of the Transfiguration, see where it happened and worship, maybe buy a relic before you go. But this isn’t what God is proposing. Jesus isn’t calling us to stay on the mountain and maintain vigil over what has been, but rather to go back down the mountain…towards Jerusalem…and all the turmoil and triumph of Holy Week. The passage of Transfiguration, is preceded by Jesus teaching about what it means to be his disciple. By this point in his ministry Jesus has turned his focus towards Jerusalem and to the cross…and he’s tried to tell his disciples this…to prepare them for what is ahead. The gospel of Luke tells us that Moses, Elijah and Jesus were speaking of what was to come, the plan ahead and it must have been so refreshing for Jesus to be with them. To converse with men who knew what he knew, who had lead before, who were close to God in unique ways. And it must have been so very frustrating to have Peter break up this holy gathering…I wouldn’t be surprised if, human as he was, Jesus wished he could stay up there on the mountain top with Moses and Elijah. Afterall Jesus does sound rather frustrated with the crowd when he is meeting them the next day. And who could blame him. Imagine what Jesus was experiencing, learning, while being while there… the ultimate spiritual retreat...an invaluable opportunity for growth. But, however glorious … it had to end. There were bigger things at stake and Christ wasn’t here to grow as a person…he was here to die as a person…so that we could live as sons and daughters of God and heirs with Christ. So much of our culture’s idea of personal growth is focused around self help…who am I?, what can I do to be a better me?, What is my purpose? These are good questions, but they shouldn’t be an end to themselves…they are questions that keep us focused on our self. What is our vision?, who do we want to be?, where are we going? To deny ourselves… is to let go of the need to define ourselves and let go of our cultures tendency towards introspective narcissism, If we spend all our time looking at who we are, we lose sight of who Christ sees us as. If we wish to become all we can be, we have to let go of the delusion that we can figure it out for ourselves…. We have to lose ourselves in Christ. It is good to be on the mountain, it’s awe inspiring, renewing and can even help us to refocus on Christ, but we cannot stay there. We have to come back down… and not just to share our transfiguration experience with others…but to become the ones transfigured. To change beyond what we could imagine. The disciples struggled the entire time they were with Christ to understand what he was doing. They experienced the transfiguration, many miracles and benefited from personal instruction with Christ Jesus…but still they were limited by their self centeredness. Not selfishness, but their inability to see beyond what they already knew. They had already decided what a messiah was…they were still bickering about who would sit on Christ’s right side in heaven… and who was and wasn’t allowed to speak with Jesus. They had trouble letting go of themselves, their dreams and their understandings… but when they did. They were transfigured. Normal everyday fellows concerned with where their next meal would come from and their status within their group of intimates… were changed into preachers and evangelists who traveled across the known world without thought of provision. They turned into leaders who went against every convention and social norm to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. They were transfigured into people who let their own selves die and so that they could live as members of Christ. It would have been much easier to sit in a tent and sell tickets to the site of Transfiguration and tell people of their experience with Moses, Elijah and Rabbi Jesus. Easier…but not better. After all the shining bits of the transfiguration had ended, the disciples were stunned and silent, but not for long. The next day they came down from the mountain. We are called by God to do the same listen to Christ and come down the mountain to the hustle and bustle of everyday live … to deny our own desires and ideas of what is and should be…to live for and as Christ. To get up…go down that mountainside…get back into the world…and find out just what Christ want us to do in the world. This is our challenge. This is our call to be transfigured individually and institutionally…to be transfigured into Love embodied, a church transfigured…to be the body of Christ alive and at work, now and always.