Broad Brook Congregational Church
March 2, 2014
What Goes Up Must Come Down, Really?
What goes up must come down, really?
That just doesn’t seem right.
Those mountain top experiences;
those over the top experiences;
they are awesome.
It is hard to find words to describe
how they make us feel.
Those encounters with the mysterious;
the divine presence of the Holy Spirit.
They are moments you want to experience forever.
Your afraid you won’t remember every detail.
You want to stay on that mountain top
What are some of your mountain top encounters?
Did they make you want to stay on the mountain?
My most recent mountaintop experience was my ordination.
But I have had many others that had nothing to do with the church
yet everything to do with the Holy Spirit’s presence.
Some were everyday happenings in which God could be sensed.
I just wanted to stay on the top of the mountain.
to stay with that feeling. That is
That is what Peter is trying to do.
The lectionary is a funny thing.
Sometimes it starts in a place that is
in the middle of the bigger picture.
Such is the case today.
We need a little more background
to help us understand the disciples’ feelings and actions.
In the previous chapter, we hear the tension rising in Jesus.
His patience is being tried on many fronts:
the Pharisees, Sadducees, and his own Disciples.
Chapter 16:1 tells us that the religious authorities ask Jesus
for a “sign from heaven” in order to trick him.
Jesus, of course turns them down.
His own disciples,
are still clueless as to Jesus true identity.
They have traveled with him—seen his miracles.
Jesus, seemingly frustrated,
reminds his disciples
what they have seen with their own eyes.
Peter finally gets it.
He says Jesus is
the Anointed One—the Messiah.
Chapter 16 ends with Jesus telling his disciples what will happen to him
and the cost of discipleship.
Then we hear of the Transfiguration on the mountaintop.
It is no wonder that Peter wants to stay awhile.
Perhaps he thinks that
if they remain there
the dreadful things of which Jesus spoke
will not come to pass.
the divine voice
once again claims Jesus as God’s son
just as God did at Jesus’ baptism.
Only this time
there is a command
“Listen to him.”
Seeing Jesus as a brilliant light;
speaking to Moses and Elijah;
Jesus’ true identity revealed;
None of this appears to frighten Peter, James, and John.
In fact that’s when Peter decides
it would be great
to build shelters for the three heroes of their faith.
Like us, Peter wants to prolong the time at the top.
What does frighten the Disciples
is the voice of God
It knocks the Disciples off their feet.
They fall flat on their faces.
It is Jesus touch that calms them;
The simple human hand touching them
Conveying God’s love.
His voice saying: “Do not be afraid” does the same.
In C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, from the Chronicles of Narnia,
Aslan is speaking to the child, Jill, on a mountaintop.
Aslan says: “ Here on the mountain
I have spoken to you clearly:
I will not often do so
down in Narnia.
Here on the mountain
the air is clear and your mind is clear;
as you drop down into Narnia,
the air will thicken.
Take care that it does not confuse your mind.
And the signs which you have learned here
will not look at all
as you expect them to look,
when you meet them there.
That is why it is so important
to know them by heart and
pay no attention to appearances.
Nothing else matters.
For Peter, James, and John,
God had spoken clearly.
The air was clear.
Their minds were focused
only on the event at hand.
Things were clear to them on the mountain.
It was easy to hear God’s voice.
in the clear air.
With no distractions their minds were clear.
Aslan had warned Jill
that as she descended from the mountain
the air would thicken.
Things would not be as clear
and she might become confused.
What she had learned on the mountain
she must know by heart.
Nothing else mattered
So too for Peter, James, and John.
Things will not be the same
after they have left the mountain.
The busyness of life;
the questions from the Sadducees and Pharisees;
the resulting tensions;
all of this will serve as distractions for the disciples.
Unless they know Jesus’ commands by heart
they will become confused.
The air will begin to thicken.
Hearing God’s voice will become problematic.
We are at a crossroads
Both in terms of our church year
and in our Gospel.
We have come to the end of Epiphany—the season of light.
On Wednesday we will enter the season of darkness—Lent.
It seems, then, that we must follow the disciples and Jesus
down off the mountain
and onto the plain.
Peter, James, and John are in a difficult position.
They have witnessed the true identity of Jesus;
but, they have been sworn to secrecy
until Jesus has been resurrected.
They must travel the road to Jerusalem
with Jesus and the other disciples
Yet they can’t let their fellow disciples know
what happened and what will happen.
There is still work to be done in the trenches.
People to heal, the word to proclaim,
and lessons to learn.
Looming ever closer is the cross.
So, yes,, what goes up must come down.
We, like the Disciples, must not stay on the mountaintop.
We have to come down to the plains
even into the valleys.
We, too, must listen for God’s voice.
We hear again the admonition of God in Psalm 46: 10-11.
“Be still and know that I am God”
“the Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
God is present on the mountain,
on the plain,
even in the valley.
The disciples entered into
daily life with all its distractions and tensions.
It is the same for us.
Every day life is filled with distractions and tensions.
We have to know by heart what we learned on the mountain.
Because in the cacaphony that thickens our air
it is difficult to hear God’s voice
we make it a habit.
As we learn to carve out time
to just BE
it will become a habit
to listen for that still small voice
and know that the Holy Spirit is speaking to us.
Very soon we will be walking with the disciples
as they begin the journey into Jerusalem with Jesus.
It is without a doubt the gloomiest season of our faith.
That journey must have been so very difficult for the disciples.
It goes without saying that it was tortuous for Jesus.
We have the advantage of knowing in advance
what will take place.
But in the valleys of our lives
we are very much in the same predicament
as the disciples.
We don’t know what lies ahead.
We find ourselves wondering: Why? Where are you God?
For me, the deepest and darkest valley,
I have had to travel
was the sudden and unexpected death of my husband by suicide.
During that walk all I could do was listen to God.
I listened for the voice of God
speaking through family,
friends, and ministers
both lay and ordained.
In our darkest moments,
we are given the gift
of God’s voice, God’s touch through human conduits
conveying God’s love.
In much the same way as Jesus’ touch
and voice did for the Disciples..
The unexpected phone call
the unexpected letter
the unexpected visit
when most needed
those are moments of God’s voice;
visits from everyday Angels.
I see God in the faces of those I meet face to face in those moments.
I hear the glory of God
in their voices,
their written words,
and their touch.
Jesus’ transfiguration brings us hope and healing.
The good news of our story this morning
is telling us
that God is present with us
through all the valleys,
and mountaintop experiences
of our daily lives—
as well as rejoicing with us on the mountaintop.
Really, what goes up must come down.
We cannot remain on the mountaintop
because the mountaintop experiences
On the mountain we learn to listen to God;
learn that God’s love can come to us
through human touch and words.
Our transfiguration gives us
to walk confidently with God
through life’s twists and turns.
What goes up must come down, really!
That is the good news I found in the Scripture for this morning.
I offer it to you, in the greatest of hope!