PASTOR'S PEN: Mountains and valleys

By Pastor Theresa Fairbanks

Crystal Valley and Walkerville United Methodist Churches

This last December, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was released. People were so excited to see this movie they bought tickets weeks in advance. When it was finally released, theaters were sold out. When audiences saw the first films  39 years ago, they were amazed with the special effects; now years later the special effects of the new films are a hundred times better.

When it comes to special effects and wonderful displays of power and glory, everything humanity can do has to take a backseat to what God can do. Luke 9:28-43 give us some insights into the power of God.

We can only imagine what it must have been like for Peter, James, and John on that mountaintop. To see Jesus changed before their eyes as He stood there talking with Moses and Elijah. This scene is far more powerful and spectacular than the special effects of any movie out there. Even more important than the visual effects which Peter, James and John saw on the mountaintop that day was the message from God. It’s the message from God to the disciples of who Jesus is.

There are three things we can take from this text. First, the passage is a testimony of who Jesus is. God's voice calls out from the cloud that surrounded them on the mountaintop saying "This my Son whom I have chosen, listen to Him." Second, it tells us of the preparation of Jesus death. Luke tells us Moses and Elijah appear and spoke about His departure, which He was to bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem. This sets the stage for what will happen in the days ahead as Jesus begins His walk towards the cross. Finally, this portion of scripture gives us a glimpse of Jesus Eternal Glory. We are told as He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightening, Jesus was transfigured on top of that mountain. The miracle of Moses and Elijah appearing on that mountain and Jesus transfiguration was a testimony to the fact that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

Today it is all too common for people to dismiss or explain away miracles. We are told modern scientifically trained people can no longer accept the miracles of the Bible as factual accounts. There are those who insist that any modern intelligent Christian has to give up the notion that Jesus healed 10 lepers with the power of His word. That He fed thousands from a boy’s sack lunch. That He calmed the storms of a raging sea, made the lame to walk, the dumb to talk, and the blind to see. We’re told we should regard these events as mere stories or myths.

NO WAY!

These were signs for people then, and are for us today. You tell the young mother of a son near death with meningitis who has fully recovered, that her prayers meant nothing. Miracles happen! Miracles happen just as surely as you and I will pay taxes until we die. Just as surely as Christ will come again. I admit it takes a lot of faith to believe in the miracles of the Bible, but I do believe!

The story of the transfiguration is a miracle that describes to us what we sometimes call mountaintop experiences. We’ve all had mountaintop experiences, when we feel we are on top of the world, and in the presence of God. Perhaps yours was when your child was born, or when you got married. Maybe you received a special blessing or a healing from God. God felt so close you could reach out and touch Him.

We remember the mountaintop experience that Martin Luther King described to us in his famous sermon he preached on April 3, 1968. His sermon was entitled "I see the promised land." Martin Luther King said that he didn’t worry about anything, because he had been to the mountaintop with God. He said he had no fear "For my eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord" The next day Martin Luther King was fatally shot. That night when he preached he was ready to face his destiny. He was ready because he had been to the mountaintop with God.

Mountaintop experiences prepare us for the valleys of our lives. We are able to make it through the valleys in our lives because, like Martin Luther King, we have been to the mountain top with God. When you are in the valley of joblessness, or in the valley of loneliness or sickness, or the valley of depression, we shall fear no evil for the Lord is with us. We need to remember how just as God is with us on the mountaintops, He is with us in the valleys too.